Imperial measurements will bring ‘British culture’ back to shops, claims minister

Government accused of ‘weaponising nostalgia’ with post-Brexit plan

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 31 May 2022 15:43 BST
Tory MP says imperial measurements are part of our 'national heritage and culture'

A government push to boost the use imperial measurements after Brexit will bring British “culture” back into shops, a minister has claimed.

Boris Johnson is expected to make an announcement this Friday to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to pave the way for greater use of pounds, ounces, feet and inches.

Appearing to confirm the plan, technology minister Chris Philp told Sky News: “It’s allowing a bit of our national culture and heritage back onto the shop shelf.”

The government has been accused of trying to “weaponise nostalgia” among Brexit voters at a time when the cost of living crisis hits hard-pressed families.

Denying ministers were ignoring more important issues, Mr Philp said: “The government is throwing everything at this cost of living problem, as we rightly should.”

The government is preparing to open a consultation into how to further incorporate imperial measurements after Brexit. No 10 hopes the move could shore up support in Leave-voting areas.

Labour MP Angela Eagle said the measurement move was a “pathetic” attempt to “weaponise nostalgia”.

Tory MP Alicia Kearns also criticised the move. She said “not one” of her constituents was calling for imperial measurements.

“This isn’t a Brexit freedom. It’s a nonsense,” said Ms Kearns, who said she no longer has confidence in Mr Johnson in the wake of the Partygate scandal.

Fellow Tory MP Tobias Ellwood – another critic of the PM – said bringing back imperial measurements as a desperate attempt to “shore up and chase a slice off the electorate”.

The defence select committee chair said: “There will be some people in our party which will like this nostalgic policy in the hope that it’s enough to win the next election. But this is not the case. This is not one-nation Conservative thinking that is required to appeal beyond our base.”

EU weights and measures directive came into force in 2000, with traders legally required to use metric units for sale-by-weight or the measure of fresh produce.

It remains legal to price goods in pounds and ounces but they have to be displayed alongside the price in grammes and kilogrammes.

The Independent understands has been told there will not be a move away from metric units but the consultation will look at where it makes sense to incorporate or switch to imperial measurements such as feet and yards, and pints and gallons.

It is part of a wider effort in Whitehall to review what EU regulations remain on the UK’s statute books after Brexit.

Mr Johnson is said to be planning a “bonfire” of EU regulations in a bid to shore up support among Brexit-backing MPs and voters. A list of rules set to be repealed will be announced alongside the Brexit Freedoms Bill, according to i news.

Meanwhile, it emerged that a family of average earners will be around £800 worse off this year, even after the extra £15bn package of support announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak last week.

Analysis from the Commons Library shows that two median full-time employees earning £33,790 each will pay an extra £220 this year.

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