Give them 2.54 cms and they’ll take 1.61 kms as the expression goes. Once again the faux prospect of reintroducing imperial measures has raised its head, not that they ever went away. You can still order a pint of beer, buy a quarter of cheese and drive at seventy miles an hour. There are some measurements that are embedded deep in our consciousness.
Yet there is a phoney war brewing, not like the real war that is kicking off in Ukraine. There is an attempt by the newly appointed Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency to make his position relevant. Despite the enormous number of Brexit benefits promised, yet still to be identified, it is hoped that imperial measures will inflame the passions of the nation. They won’t.
The problem for Rees-Mogg, which I assume he knows, is that, for the majority of the population, the imperial system in its entirety, is long gone. Most people under sixty will have worked almost entirely in the metric system and there will be no appetite to go back to school and relearn something of questionable value.
Whilst miles and pints may still be in the vernacular, I can’t see a revival for rods, poles, chains, gills or quarts. Once, in one of my occasional Twitter spats, someone claimed that imperial measures were in more of a human scale but I remain unconvinced. There is so little difference between a yard and a metre, a pound and half a kilo, a pint and half a litre to make any of it incomprehensible. Indeed the complexity of the imperial system makes it hard to learn. For example it is only in the last couple of years that I have realised an acre is a furlong by a chain.
The metric system predates the European Union and so any attempt to link Brexit with the reintroduction of imperial measurement is false. It is an attempt to tap into a vein of populism by pandering to false feelings of some sort of British bulldog spirit. It is a blatant attempt to cause division between loyalist imperialists and the metric remainers. It won’t work.