Even the most ardent republican can’t have failed to note Britain marks Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee this week. Brits get two days’ bank holiday, communities are holding street parties and you can’t walk down the high street without tripping over bunting.
It’s a publicity dream for a government – it costs them nothing, but they get to cash in on the enduring popularity of the monarch and the joyous sentiment attached to time off work. It’s also a huge, if temporary, distraction to the issues which are of the government’s making, namely the endless Partygate scandals, rising inflation and Brexit fallout. So, always a bloke with his finger on the pulse, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided to drag his country firmly into the 19th century by reintroducing imperial measures.
Ostensibly to “mark” the jubilee, it is, in fact, a tiresome and pointless kick in the teeth to the EU, on the off-chance they have any gnashers left following the deliberate breaching of an international treaty. But hey ho. Ounces and pounds it is. Pints, rather than litres. Pounds, not euros; miles, not kilometres.
Oh, right – they already had all that so it’s not quite the toys-out-of-the-pram moment it should be. In an additional announcement, a crown stamp on pint glasses will replace the European CE mark. None of this is made up. A (hopefully, roundly embarrassed) government spokesman said it was the embodiment of the Brexit bounce and the UK was “now free to change our regulations”. Added to the reprinting of blue passports – made in France, incidentally – citizens must feel the Land of Hope and Glory is truly restored. It would, government sources said, “bring back British culture”, which of late has manifested itself by the ubiquitous Ant and Dec and the cast of Love Island.
Presumably, the path is now clear for a return to workhouses and sending small boys up chimneys. Burning monasteries and the imposition of doublets and codpieces can’t be far off.
The EU’s weights and measures directive has been in place since 1995 for goods sold into Europe. In the UK they could always be displayed alongside imperial measurements, so quite what has been achieved is moot. Mr Johnson terms the massive victory an “ancient liberty” restored.
However, Britain joins only two other countries using standard imperial measures – Myanmar and Liberia. The US has different weightings, making global trade deals immediately more interesting.
Shockingly, some of Mr Johnson’s own backbenchers aren’t overcome with imperialistic emotion. One called it a “nonsense”, another said “not one constituent, ever, has asked for this”.
Given inflation levels, presumably guineas along with shillings and pence will need to be displayed. Pub-goers will no longer have to ask publicans for “473 millilitres of your finest ale, my good man”. It’ll be 100 feet to church, rather than 30.48 metres, proving at last, “Britons never, never shall be slaves”.