Shops could sell in pounds and ounces after UK's break from EU

Boris Johnson ‘will announce return of imperial measurements to mark Queen’s Platinum Jubilee’: Shops could soon be allowed to sell products in pounds and ounces after UK’s break from EU

  • Government has launched consultation on sweeping ban on imperial measures
  • From Friday pubs will be able to sell pints in glasses bearing the Crown symbol
  • Downing Street hopes the move could shore up support in Leave-voting areas
  • It came after the Tories were hit by revelations around lockdown parties in No 10 

Boris Johnson is set to announce the return of imperial measurements after the UK’s break with the European Union.

The Prime Minister could reportedly announce a consultation into how to further incorporate imperial measurements in Britain on Friday to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Downing Street hopes the move could shore up support in Leave-voting areas after Conservative polling took a hit amid revelations about lockdown-busting parties at No 10, the Mirror reported.

Boris Johnson is set to announce the return of imperial measurements after the UK’s break with the European Union (File image)

Pint glasses will also be adorned with a Crown for the first time in nearly 20 years after Ministers axed EU rules banning the patriotic symbol.

With the country gearing up for a long bank holiday weekend to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign, the Government has launched a consultation on sweeping away the ban on imperial measures – meaning shops could once again be allowed to sell products in pounds and ounces.

The 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.

In anticipation of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, pint glasses will be adorned with a Crown for the first time in nearly 20 years after Ministers axed EU rules banning the patriotic symbol (File image)

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

Although there will not be a move away from metric units the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will lead a consultation about where it makes sense to incorporate or switch to imperial measurements, such as with feet and yards or pints and gallons.

Traders will likely to be free to choose which system they use.

The UK currently uses a mix of imperial and metric, with speed limits in miles per hour rather than kilometres, and milk and beer bought in pints.

Food packaging in supermarkets is mainly labelled in grammes, while most soft drinks and other liquids on shop shelves are sold in litres.

Last night, the move to reintroduce the Crown on pint glasses – which first appeared in 1699 during the reign of William III – was hailed by Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg as ‘a very fitting symbol of how the Queen’s realm is being returned to her people now that they have been freed from the bureaucratic Suzerain of Brussels’.

How the EU stole the pint’s Crown 

King William III Of England (1650-1702)

The symbol of the Crown was introduced on pint measures more than 300 years ago during the reign of William III to stop publicans ripping off their customers by serving drinks in smaller glasses.

The insignia shows that, when filled to the brim or to a line measure, 20 imperial fluid ounces – or 568ml – of beer has been served.

When the rule was introduced in 1699, innkeepers faced a penalty of up to 40 shillings if they did not serve ale in a vessel marked with the Crown.

Glasses were also required to display the initials of the reigning monarch, although this was scrapped in 1964.

In 1824, The Weights and Measures Act, along with a later 1878 Act, created the British imperial system and the Crown stamp as it would be recognised today. More recently, a certification number was required to be added under the Crown so a glass could be traced back to the weights and measures inspector responsible for certifying it.

Each inspector – like a police officer – had an identifying number and was responsible for a certain area or factory.

In 2004, the EU Measuring Instruments Directive, which came into force in 2006, required the EU-wide CE mark to be added to pint glasses.

Pubs and brewers pleaded – unsuccessfully – with the then prime minister Tony Blair to save the Crown and to allow it to be displayed next to the CE.

However, following the directive, glasses could only be adorned with the symbol for decorative purposes, rather than as an indicator of measurement.

From Friday, pubs will be able to sell pints in glasses bearing the symbol for the first time since the 2004 EU Measuring Instruments Directive required the use of the EU-wide ‘CE mark’ to demonstrate conformity with EU rules.

A Government source said last night that the legal requirement to use the CE mark led to the effective removal of the Crown symbol because the UK ‘could not have two competing indications of conformity’.

Boris Johnson is determined to demonstrate a ‘Brexit dividend’ for voters since leading us out of the EU – and is equally keen to harness a political ‘bunting bounce’ after being battered by criticism over Partygate and leadership plotting against him by rebel MPs.

Before a looser interpretation of the EU’s directive was introduced, some shop owners were prosecuted for failing to adhere to the Brussels stipulations, becoming known as ‘metric martyrs’.

Reviving imperial measures could also help the Prime Minister to win support in pro-Brexit seats, which will be vital at the next General Election. In other Jubilee developments:

The Mail on Sunday can reveal the Queen will make two appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony despite her ongoing mobility difficulties;

  • Meghan Markle’s father Thomas paid tribute to Her Majesty as he left hospital after treatment for a stroke;
  • Prince William performed in a dress rehearsal for Trooping the Colour while riding a horse named George;
  • A new poll revealed that the Queen has an 86 per cent public approval rating, with more than two-thirds of Britons wanting the country to remain a monarchy.

Pint glasses were first marked with a Crown more than 300 years ago to reassure suspicious customers that they were not being cheated by unscrupulous landlords trying to serve drinks in undersized glasses.

The Government will this week publish guidance endorsing the use of the symbol by businesses and will also launch a consultation on removing the legal requirement for metric units to be used for all trade purposes with only limited exceptions. Currently, imperial units are only authorised for use on their own in a small number of cases, such sales of draught beer and cider.

A Government source said: ‘We Brits measure our walks in miles and our beer and milk by the pint. Nobody knows what a four-and-a-half kilo baby looks like, but we all know a ten-pounder is a whopper.

‘It’s time we held our heads high about our long history of traditional measures.

‘And what better way to celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee than restoring the Crown emblem back on to the side of pint glasses so that we can toast her health and service to this country.’

The move was welcomed by Conservative MP Sir John Hayes, the leader of the Common Sense Group.

‘This is superb news. Now that we are free from the clutches of the European Union we can realise once again our proud history and our confident future,’ he said.

‘The symbols of identity are very important in that endeavour. So let’s have Britannia and the Crown and the other symbols of our kingdom stamped all over the place. This is an entirely fitting tribute. It is just so uplifting and heart-warming.

‘Let’s make Britain again a flag-waving patriotic country and a tribute to Her Majesty’s dedicated service to our nation. This is building from our glorious past to our even more glorious future.’

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith added last night: ‘I look forward to raising a Crown of beer to toast Her Majesty’s Jubilee.’

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