Amid a pandemic, a climate emergency, and food shortages, it’s reassuring to know that the government has its priorities straight by dealing with the real issues of our time.

Obviously, we’re referring to the government’s bid to reintroduce imperial measurements, which have been gradually excluded from society as those pesky metric measurements have taken over.

Much to the bewilderment of social media, ministers yesterday announced plans which could see imperial measurements make a comeback in the UK. Why? Simply because they can, now that the UK has left the EU.

In a bid to standardise measurements across the continent, the EU weights and measures directive meant shopkeepers had to display the prices of their goods in metric units, such as grams and kilograms.

But, under plans to review the EU laws, announced by Brexit minister Lord Frost, market stalls, shops and supermarkets could once again legally sell their goods using only Britain’s traditional weighing system. It means that the likes of pounds and ounces could return to shop shelves.

Unsurprisingly, the news has proved divisive, with many ridiculing the government’s keenness to make future plans for something which is seen as fairly historic for many.

Among the critics was Labour MP Jess Phillips, who tweeted: “Literally no one has ever raised this with me as an MP. EVER! They do however tell me that they cannot afford their heating, they say they can’t get their disabled kids a school place, they tell me they called the police and no one came. But sure a quarter of sweets will solve it.”

Here’s a flavour of some of the other critical and withering reactions:

Of course, there were some who welcomed the move, with The Telegraph heralding the move a “Brexit triumph”:

And the so-called “metric martyrs” will no doubt welcome the plans. One of the “metric martyrs” was Steven Thoburn, who found himself in hot water and he was caught selling bananas worth 34p using imperial measurements in 2001. Thoburn was arrested and convicted of two offences under the Weights and Measures Act.

Boris Johnson had promised to bring back imperial units to shops as part of his pitch to voters in the 2019 general election, At the time, he said: “We will bring back that ancient liberty. People understand what a pound of apples is. There will be an era of generosity and tolerance towards traditional measurements.”

Ministers have also set out plans for the return of the crown stamp on pint glasses, with other measures include introducing digital driving licences, test certificates and MOT processes.

We should say here that the UK has always had a confused relationship with its unit identity and has never really let go of the imperial system. For example, it’s still used for describing heights (feet and inches) and weight (stones and pounds), as well as speed limits (miles per hour). Also, shopkeepers have never actually been banned from using the imperial system – it’s just that the law has meant they also have to provide the metric equivalent alongside it.

So it remains to be seen whether such plans would really have much of a day-to-day impact on most people.

Either way, the plans are certainly giving people plenty of “mileage” to once again poke fun at the government.

Additional reporting by PA

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