What are imperial measurements as Boris Johnson wants to revive system of units?

·2-min read
Boris Johnson wants to return to the imperial system of units--which includes pints--post-Brexit. (Getty Images)
Boris Johnson wants to return to the imperial system of units--which includes pints--post-Brexit. (Getty Images)

The government will review whether traders can sell produce using imperial measurements, post-Brexit.

Under EU rules, traders can display imperial measurements alongside metric, but the imperial measurements must not be more prominent.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make the announcement on Friday to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Consultations on the change will begin next week and will last for three months–but the move has been criticised.

Senior Tory MP Tobias Ellwood said it is far from the “visionary, progressive” thinking that the Conservative Party requires, while Tory MP Alicia Kearns said: "This isn’t a Brexit freedom. It’s nonsense.”

Meanwhile, Labour MP Angela Eagle has called it a "pathetic" attempt to "weaponise nostalgia".

But what is the imperial system of units and how does it compare to the metric system?

What are imperial measurements?

The imperial measurement system was defined in the UK after the Weights and Measures Act of 1824 and 1878.

Imperial measurement units for length or distance include inches, feet, yards, and miles, while imperial units for mass or weight include grains, ounces, quarters, stones, pounds, and tonnes.

Volume units under the imperial system include fluid ounces, gills, pints, quarts, and gallons, while imperial units to measure areas include acres, square miles, square feet, and square inches.

What are metric measurements?

Most countries use the metric system, including the UK, the USA, Australia, Canada, France, and Spain, to name a few.

The metric system uses a decimal system, with units based on the power of 10.

The system uses metre to measure units of length or distance, litre to measure capacity or volume, and gram to measure weight or mass.

The metric units for length are millimetre (mm), decimeter (dm), centimetre (cm), metre (m), and kilometre (km).

Grams (g) and kilograms (kg) are used to measure weight, while millilitres (ml) and litres (l) are used to measure volume.

Do we use imperial or metric units in the UK?

The UK officially uses metric units, like the rest of the EU. You might buy a kilogram of rice, or a litre of milk, for example.

However, we still use imperial units everyday in the UK. For example, we typically measure road distances by miles, and glasses of beer by pints.

We also generally use feet and inches to measure height, and stones, pounds, and ounces to measure weight.

In 2007, UK Metric Association (UKMA) urged then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to phase out imperial measurements by 2009.

It said the use of "two confused, competing systems" was hugely wasteful and potentially dangerous.