British manufacturers may once again be able to sell goods in pounds and ounces after the country has left the European Union, the Environment Secretary has hinted.
Andrea Leadsom said the government would be free to change food labelling laws once Britain has ditched EU regulations, with manufacturers able to indicate weights in measurements such as ounces and pounds, volume in pints and fluid ounces, and sugar content in teaspoons.
Speaking at the British Food Fortnight Awards, Mrs Leadsom said: “Once we have left the EU, we will get the opportunity to look at how we can change rules that will be better for the United Kingdom and whether that’s on weights and measures or issues like teaspoons, those are things for the future.”
Britain has proven more resistant to metrication than other nations, maintaining miles and yards for its roads, while still selling milk, draught beer, and cider in pints. Many Brits also prefer to use imperial measurements such as feet, inches, pounds, and stones in everyday language.
However, EU rules mean that most good must be labelled in metric measurements. While shops can display imperial units alongside metric ones, they cannot “stand out more than the metric measurement”.
Warwick Cairns, a spokesman for the British Weights and Measures Association, told the Telegraph: “I think the key word in all of this is freedom.
“For well over a hundred years, people in Britain were free to buy and sell in whichever measures they pleased. If they wanted to use imperial, they could. If they wanted to use metric, they could. It didn’t hurt anyone or inconvenience anyone.
“In January 2000, that freedom was taken away. There were raids on greengrocers’ shops and market stalls. There were prosecutions. Honest traders were turned into criminals.
“It was madness – and the fact that ‘metric martyrs’ like the late Steven Thoburn still have criminal records on file is nothing short of wicked. It would be a truly wonderful thing to have our freedom back.”