In recent weeks, several pro-Brexit newspapers and politicians have raised issues related to the UK’s measurement mess, so we are allowing a Remainer to counter their arguments.
UKMA took no view on whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU – there may be 27 metric countries in the EU, 28 if you include the UK, but there are around 170 other metric countries around the world, including most of the Commonwealth countries that formerly used imperial measures. Indeed, it could be argued that completing the UK’s metric changeover and ending the current muddle will become more important, not less, after Brexit.
Anyway, here, in full, is an article published by Jon Danzig on 6 September.
“Sir Bill Cash MP falsely claims the EU outlawed imperial measures in the UK.
Brexiteers keep telling Remainers to shut up and accept the Referendum result. But it seems nothing can make ‘Leave’ politicians shut up from continuing to spread mistruths about the EU in support of Brexit.
So, of course, the Brexit debate has to continue.
This week, veteran Tory Eurosceptic, Sir Bill Cash MP, repeated in The Sun newspaper old chestnuts about the EU and imperial measures.
He wrote, “The criminalisation of retailers for daring to sell groceries in pounds and ounces was one of the biggest outrages of EU policy.”
And he added, “Now an end to that injustice with the so-called ‘Metric Martyrs’ is within sight. The fanatics and bureaucrats — who are often the same thing — wanted to persecute shopkeepers just for using imperial measurements their customers understood.”
But as the European Commission pointed out:
“The EU has never banned pounds and ounces or other imperial measures.
“EU law does require metric measurements to be used – though already in 1965, eight years before joining the EEC, the Wilson Government decided to initiate the UK’s metrication programme, in response to global moves in this direction.”
EU law has always allowed imperial measures to be used alongside metric ones.
The so-called ‘Metric Martyrs’ were prosecuted in 2001 for using illegal scales, which were not capable of weighing in both imperial and metric systems. They lost their court cases and appeal.
At the time, a government spokesman commented, “In the UK we have been moving to metric since 1965. This is not a European issue. Most of the world has gone metric.”
Back in 2001, the EU Commission also commented:
“Metrication in the UK is not the result of British membership of the EU. In 1965, eight years before joining the EEC, the Wilson Government decided to initiate the UK’s metrication programme, in response to global moves in this direction – Ireland and all Commonwealth countries had already adopted the metric system.
“The transition has been a gradual one but, for almost three decades now, children in British schools have enjoyed a metric-only education.”
But prominent Brexiteer, Sir Bill Cash, stated this week, “We have a complete culture of traditional thinking on the subject of imperial measurements and yet metric was just imposed on us.
“There will be people who say, ‘I have been brought up at school being taught in metres and kilometres, and other metric units’, and that is perfectly understandable. They should not worry. There will still be grams and kilograms.”
Added Sir Bill:
“But there are many people who wish to return to traditional imperial measurements and there is no reason on Earth why they should not be allowed to do so, alongside metric.”
And that’s exactly what we have now, Bill. Why are you continuing to spread misleading statements about the EU in support of Brexit?”
Jon Danzig is running a campaign for Britain to remain in the EU. More details on his Facebook community page Reasons2Remain. He is also an award-winning medical and investigative journalist, formerly at the BBC. He specializes in writing about health, human rights and the European Union. More at: www.jondanzig.com.