Make another U-turn – scrap imperial measures proposals

The Government has recently made several U-turns on economic policy. They are not averse to making U-turns when it becomes politically convenient. The government is committed to dropping the requirement to show metric units alongside imperial units in some or all areas. UKMA is demanding that the Government makes a U-turn on this policy and scraps these imperial measures proposals. There is a way out where they can save face and avoid embarrassment and humiliation.

On 23 September, chancellor Kwazi Kwarteng introduced a mini-budget with a package of tax cuts worth £45 billion funded by extra borrowing as part of Liz Truss’ Growth Plan. These were the biggest tax cuts in 50 years. After introducing his mini-budget, the financial markets reacted badly amid widespread concern about how the huge black hole in the public finances will be filled. The pound crashed, almost 1000 mortgage deals were withdrawn, the Bank of England set aside a £65 billion emergency bailout fund to spend over the next 13 working days to rescue the pensions industry, interest rates on government bonds increased to 4.5% and mortgage costs rose.

One thing that was not offered was the offer to press ahead with the reintroduction of imperial measurements at full speed. This fact shows how irrelevant these proposals are in the grand scheme of things. The PM knows they won’t save her. They did not save her predecessor. It was a policy intended to appeal to the Conservative Party’s base. In a previous Metric Views, I explained the dangers of only appealing to your base and ignoring the electorate. You can read it at

As a result of the financial fallout from the mini-budget, the Government abandoned the abolition of the 45% income tax rate for top earners and later reversed their plan to scrap the rise in corporation tax from 19% to 25%. This was still not enough. On Friday 14 October, chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked after just 38 days in the job. He was replaced by Jeremy Hunt, who reversed most of the measures in the mini-budget. Jeremy Hunt has scrapped the following plans that were in the mini-budget:

  • reduce basic rate of income tax from 20% to 19% from next April
  • cancel corporation tax rise to 25% from next April
  • commit to the pension triple lock (rising by 2.5%, inflation or earnings whichever is highest)
  • abolish 45% top income tax rate for top earners
  • two-year energy price guarantee
  • tax-free shopping for international tourists
  • freeze alcohol duty rates
  • reverse the 2018 and 2021 off-payroll working reforms
  • abolish the additional tax rate on dividend income from next April
  • no spending cuts

UKMA is calling on the Government to make one more U-turn and scrap their plans to reintroduce imperial measurements. They can quietly drop their plans and issue a statement such as:

“We ran a consultation to examine the feasibility of giving more choice to consumers and businesses on measurement units. While we had the best of intentions to increase choice and remove burdensome regulations, major retailers and professional organisations representing trading standards departments, consumers, retailers and traders strongly opposed these proposals and expressed serious concerns about them.

The reintroduction of imperial measurements would increase costs for inspectors and businesses, involve additions to the national curriculum and require a public education campaign. They would increase costs during a time of austerity, rising business costs, falling living standards and rising inflation.

They will be a particular problem for people under 50, who have had no education in imperial units, and of course for those visiting or moving from other countries, including 6 million EU nationals living in the UK who have applied for settled status.

For these reasons, we are scrapping our proposals to reintroduce imperial measurements and we have decided not to make changes to the law on weights and measures.”

This is likely to get little media coverage given the turmoil in British politics. Unlike the other U-turns the Government has recently made, this U-turn is easy to make. They can still make this U-turn with their heads held high. The Government has a way out and should grab it with both hands.

9 thoughts on “Make another U-turn – scrap imperial measures proposals”

  1. Liz Truss can abandon the suggested switch-back to imperial units without any loss of face – the consultation was announced to the public by Boris Johnson when he tried to politicise the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The press, if they say anything, will probably welcome such a move by her.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is a good possibility that nothing will come of the drive to return to imperial for a number of reasons. A few being that as mentioned it wasn’t her call to begin with and she is fine with the status quo. She is overwhelmed with other more pressing issues, such as the failing economy and the expanding war in Ukraine.

    If she does take action and the media reports it in a positive way it will result in a further isolation of her leadership or lack of it and could turn the population against both her and the media even more.

    Every time I click on a link to an online newspaper, they interrupt with a begging for money, which tells me their choices of backing the wrong persons or ideas is alienating the public not to subscribe to their publications.


  3. Now that Liz Truss has resigned, hopefully her replacement will be a person of good sense and end any chance of any reversal, no matter how small the reversal may be.


  4. While not a reversal to Imperial but rather a residual clinging to Imperial, I am sad to report that RTE News shows us that some Irish still cling to outdated Imperial units of measure, in this case “acres” instead of “hectares”:

    While I definitely applaud their efforts to expand the woodland, I am surprised that folks as young as those who appear in the new clip quite casually use “acres” instead of “hectares” when describing the size of the wood.

    Do any folks know how prevalent Imperial units still are in Ireland in casual conversation? Do they still use “feet” and “inches” for human height and (the horror!) “stones” for human weight? What about on official documents like passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, etc.?

    I have heard bits and pieces of older folks in Australia still using Imperial units on occasion but I was not prepared for Irish folks to be doing the same despite their long standing membership in the fully metric Single Market and Customs Union. Especially since the UK exit from the EU I would think the Irish would more than happy to distance themselves as much as possible from their historical oppressors (i.e. Westminster).


  5. Ezra:

    I think the Irish closely follow trends and the media in the UK. Countryfile, a big farming programme on the BBC, still talks about acres. I don’t know why. But as we know, the BBC doesn’t seem to have a particular policy on measurement units. It’s not 20 years since they switched their road signs to metric in Ireland. Everything in Ireland that is used for official purposes in farming will be in metric, i.e. land areas for calculating EU subsidies, as indeed they were in the UK while we were a member of the EU (and probably still are as far as I know). But it’s annoying, I must say, especially when you know the average TV viewer will probably not be able to tell you the dimensions of an imperial acre, unless they resort to comparisons with football pitches. And we all know how big a football pitch is. Don’t we?


  6. One of the possible reasons that acres are still used in both the UK and in Ireland is that many years have passed since the land was last surveyed (or changed hands) and that the commentator is merely reading off whatever is on the title deeds. EU subsidies (in Ireland) are almost certainly calculated per hectare,

    BTW, a full-sized rugby union field, including the dead ball area, is just a tiny bit over one hectare. A full-sized association football field, by comparison, is 0.714 hectares (or 1.76 acres).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Does Metric Views or any of the readers have any idea as to who would be the most favourable leader for the UK who is not opposed to metrication? Someone who even if they favour the status quo, would end any possibility of reversion to imperial in any form? Someone who would see it necessary to remove Rees-Moog from his present position and not replace him with someone of similar beliefs?


  8. Martin,

    Wouldn’t these ancient woodlands be public property and not private property where government records for them would officially state and list their dimensions in some metric unit? Whether it be hectares, square metres of square kilometres? Since they are expanding the woodlands, they could be acquiring private property and thus would have it measured in SI units.

    I feel it is more likely they use acres because they think most people are familiar with that term and use it instead of hectares. Being familiar with the term doesn’t imply they know how big or small an acre is.


  9. Now that Rishi Sunak is going to be the next Prime Minister and is of Indian descent, can we see him as a supporter of the metric system? He may never push for a completion of metrication but can we count on him to at least not support a return to imperial even if only in the markets?


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