Where does Brexit leave metrication?

On 23 June 2016, the British people voted to leave the European Union. After all 382 voting areas of the UK declared their results, Leave had a total of 17 410 742 votes (52% of the total vote) and Remain a total of 16 141 241 votes (48% of the total), on a turnout of 72% of a total electorate of 46 million.

The margin of victory for Leave was 1 269 501. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned on Friday morning  and will step down early in September 2016 when a successor is expected to have emerged. The UK will leave the EU, although it is not clear how long this will take.

The outcome could have huge implications for the future of the UK, given the different outcomes in the four nations that make up the UK. Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain in the EU but England and Wales voted to leave. Another referendum on Scottish independence is being considered, given that all 32 voting areas in Scotland voted to remain in the EU. Nationalists in Northern Ireland are calling for a referendum on whether it should unite with the Irish Republic..

So where does Brexit leave the stalled metric changeover?

The UK will leave the EU single market of 27 other nations. Two options are being floated:

1. Join the European Economic area (EEA). This is a free trade area, currently including the EU and three other nations, all metric.

2. Cultivate trading partners throughout the world and negotiate trade treaties where necessary. There are around 200 potential trade partners, and, guess what, they are nearly all metric.

Some regard the metric system as an imposition of the EU rather than the world standard. This perception has been encouraged by successive governments who have used the EU to deflect criticism of UK weights and measures legislation and regulations. In future, the case for continuing and completing the metric changeover will have to be made on its own merits, hopefully encouraging rational debate, as happened elsewhere in the Commonwealth in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

It is not for Metric Views to speculate on the likelihood of another referendum in Scotland on the issue of independence. However, should this occur, as a condition of an independent Scotland’s accession to the EU, it is also possible that the exemption for the use of metric units on “road signs, distance and speed” that currently applies to the UK could be withdrawn.

The Republic of Ireland completed its transition to the metric system in 2005 when it changed its speed limit signs; distance signs had been changed during the previous decade. If Northern Ireland were eventually to form a united Ireland with the Republic, it is unlikely that the anachronistic road traffic signs in the North would survive for very long.

In both England and Wales, which have been united constitutionally since the late Middle Ages, there was a majority of votes for Leave. They are likely to remain together, for better or worse, should the UK fragment.

As discussed previously on this blog, the metric changeover in the UK began in 1864 with the Weights and Measures (Metric System) Act. It was given fresh impetus in 1965, when it was announced in Parliament that:

“The Government are impressed with the case which has been put to them by representatives of industry for the wider use in British industry of the metric system of weights and measures. Countries using that system now take more than one-half of our exports; and the total proportion of world trade conducted in terms of metric units will no doubt continue to increase. Against that background the Government consider it desirable that British industries on a broadening front should adopt metric units, sector by sector, until that system can become in time the primary system of weights and measures for the country as a whole …”

At that time, around 75% of the world’s countries had adopted the metric system. The figure is now around 98%, and about half of the UK’s exports go to the EU alone. In 1965, the concentration of industrial production was in Europe, the US and Japan. Today, China and India, both of which adopted the metric system in the second half of the twentieth century, have become major players.

The USA, which accounts for around 10% of UK trade, deserves special mention. Opponents of the metric system in the UK often use the USA to justify the continued use of so-called customary units. However, metric is officially the preferred system of weights and measures for trade and commerce, and is used by government, NASA, the military, scientists, some sports, healthcare, the car industry and package and nutrition labelling.

So the arguments put forward in 1965, apply with even greater force today.

For over a thousand years, the use of a single system of measures has been an aim of government in England, then in Great Britain and finally in the UK. But this began to be questioned in 1995, by which time the UK had come close to achieving the objective set out in that Parliamentary statement thirty years earlier. The completion of the changeover has now stalled.  Clearly the battleground in future in England and Wales will be, as now and regardless of Brexit, “one system or two”: on one side the proponents of a single, simple, rational and universal system of measures, and on the other side a free-for-all.

Plus ca change, toujours la meme chose.

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48 Responses to Where does Brexit leave metrication?

  1. Charlie P says:

    Whilst it is true that the UK had paved the road to metrication, and even started a journey along that road, several years before they joined what later became the EU (EU); it is also true that the EU later tried (for many decades) to force the UK to drop imperial and go entirely metric. It was that unnecessary high-handedness that was so heavily resented by large sections of the British population and that resentment that was reflected in elements of the British press.

    UK industry, business and commerce had no issues with metrication and proactively metricated their business-to-business activities, and was (as it still is) fully able to compete on equal terms in the EU and the wider international market places. That fact is self evident, and is unlikely to ever change.

    However, although UK consumers tolerated metric units on pre-packed foods (they just bought small, medium or large bags, boxes, jars or bottles), they were not comfortable with asking for loose goods in anything other than the imperial units they were familiar with - so appreciated it when shops provided consumer-friendly imperial prices and sold goods by imperial measures. Then when the EU started applying pressure to the UK to move to metric-only pricing and when it became illegal for shops to use imperial scales, resentment of this EU pettiness started to grow. Yes, the EU eventually capitulated on this too, but it was too little too late - the damage was already done.

    As for domestic road signs, there has never been a reason to spend money fixing something which isn't broken and which no-one, except UKMA, can see any reason for changing.

    I imagine that in the infinitely more diverse and more enlightened world that we now live in, that any future EU-free UK government will be unlikely to mandate the compulsory use of the metric measurement system.

    As for Scotland, if they do break-away, they will, I imagine, be as unlikely to dispense with imperial road signs as they will be to dispense with kilts, bagpipes or any other of their valuable and cherished USPs.

    If the two Irelands coalesce, I would say it is as likely that Ireland will revert to imperial speed limits as it is that Northern Ireland will convert to metric ones - given how the mile continues to be the de-facto road length unit used by the general public and media in both parts of that island, regardless of what units are on the road signs.

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  2. John Frewen-Lord says:

    @Charlie P:

    What have you been smoking? ROI as likely to dispense with metric signs as to adopt the £? Really?! In your dreams. ROI is committed to the EU, and will not revert to imperial road signs. Why you think it could is simply baffling.

    And Scotland, if it does break away (unlikely at the moment - no money - but not impossible) will surely metricate its road signs, for two primary reasons - (1) as one very visible (excuse the pun) sign (and not a very expensive one either, in spite of your view to the contrary) that it is no longer ruled by Westminster; and (2) as a show of commitment to the EU of becoming a team player should it be invited in - also not impossible. Sturgeon meets with Juncker this evening (although not yet Schulz), and we all know how much Juncker dislikes the English - incidentally the feeling is mutual. Letting in Scotland would rub England's nose in it from his perspective.

    As for your view that ROI population still uses miles - wrong again. I have a 38 year-old nephew who lives and works in Dublin, and that is not his view at all. Both he and his mates have all but forgotten what a mile is (just as Canadians have). And if NI joined with the Republic, not only would it be obliged to align its signs with the ROI, but - again like Scotland - would do so as a show of commitment. You really are clinging to very soggy straws here.

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  3. BrianAC says:

    @ Charlie P says: 2016-06-29 at 11:55

    Oh dear, oh dear. That is everything that is wrong with this country.
    No one should have been ' forcing ' (in your words) this country to do anything.
    I could be fairly certain you know that once a path is set then it is sensible and correct to continue to follow that path. It is totally stupid, illogical, irrational and futile to stop a significant way into that journey and then neither progress forward nor turn back. Once the decimal currency had been completed, and the country was well on its way to full metrication at that time. I am sure you know full well from exchanges in other sites that metrication was a widely accepted. The one last step, then as now, was to convert the roads and all would have forgotten in a few years.
    I am also fairly certain that you know full well that this was a media coup (and a total pack of lies as continues to this day) of gigantic significance to the continued detriment of this country and its place (or not) in this world.
    I personally remember nothing of the EU trying to 'force' anything on us, there were derogations on several things, with reasonable (and accepted) time scales for a change over to be completed. It was as much Thatcher that killed metrication as anything else. From that point on it was downhill all the way (or uphill all the way, depending on which way you want to go).
    You are also repeating yourself with the very tiresome 'no need to fix what isn't broken' remarks about road signs. The system is broken in so far as there is no continuity between education and regulations. I personally would say that is something that very much needs fixing.
    The rest is your political soap box and is as far removed from reality as anything else you say.

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  4. Rob says:

    I hope Gibraltar does not start using imperial road speed limits if Spain shuts the border after Brexit (just looked at a GIB web site and max speed limit is 50 km/h)

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  5. philh says:

    Historically the EU has done little to force or even encourage full adoption of the metric system in the UK. Indeed there was a major step backward in 2009 when supplementary indications were allowed indefinitely.
    The case for its completion is now stronger than ever. We will have to hope that the UK really can trade more effectively as a non-member state, as the Leave campaigners promised, and clearing up the domestic measurement mess can only help in the process.
    I doubt that UK consumers generally are as idealistic as Charlie P seems to think. In the end they just want good value for money in the shops and be able to compare prices easily.
    Things are very uncertain at the moment. We'll just have to wait and see.

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  6. Ramsden says:

    Ronnie did not mention that Douglas Jay MP, who as President of the Board of Trade made the pro-metrication statement in Parliament in 1965, then went on to become one of the main supporters of the Leave campaign in the 1975 referendum to decide on the UK's continued membership of the EEC. So, "metric yes, EEC no", and that was 40 years ago.

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  7. Charlie P says:

    @BrianAC, although you may not personally remember it, up until 2007, the EU were intent on forcing the UK to drop imperial entirely. They finally conceded towards the end of 2007 that the battle (their word not mine) was futile and unnecessary, especially as EU industry had told them that such UK domestic use was no problem to them.

    Incidentally, and to their credit, the EU also recognised (contrary to the UKMA stance) the importance of honouring the culture and traditions of the UK and Ireland in this respect.

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  8. BrianAC says:

    One possibly positive spin off from the exit vote has already happened.
    Few of us I am sure would not have missed the Darren Gratton Butcher story in the Sun 'news' paper ( https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1340899/shop-starts-selling-meat-in-pounds-and-ounces-after-britain-voted-to-leave-the-eu/ ) on 25th, the first possible date. In that article Gratton says they have applied to the local council to be allowed to continue to 'sell' in pounds and ounces, whilst also saying they have to measure in kg anyway as they only have metric scales, but they convert at point of sale, which they have always been able to do anyway.

    The positive side is a follow up story in the Telegraph, not renowned for its pro metric leanings, on the 27th ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/how-well-do-you-know-imperial-measurements-take-our-test-to-find/ ), in the article the Telegraph makes this unequivocal statement " Contrary to popular myth, the rules do not come from Brussels, but from part of Britain's own Weights and Measures legislation."
    Will that fact matter? Facts have never come into it before, and not likely to any time soon as posts here have already shown, but at least one paper has made it clear.

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  9. Leo says:

    I believe a Brexit (if it indeed happens) will only lead to a speeding up of metrication in the UK. Currently the EU accepts two measurement systems because one of their members still uses Imperial in some instances.

    When the UK leaves, all of their members use the Metric system and the EU can finally scrap allowances for supplementary indications. The UK will have given up its right to EU decision making but will still be held to EU standards because it will still be trading with the EU.

    All in all, it may become illegal to use Imperial measurements on any British packaging destined for international trade for instance. As a manufacturer you'd rather have one type of packaging than having to make a special one for the UK specific so I expect Imperial to disappear from more places.

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  10. Charlie P says:

    @Leo, no. The UK (and Ireland) are only two of the reasons that the EU still entertains imperial/customary measures. Another is to give them access to the US market. For EU states to be able to trade with the US, the EU had to condescend to allow the continued use of non-metric units. I can't see that changing anytime soon.

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  11. Stan H says:

    Nothing irritates me more than so called "tradition" as being a reason to hang on to an awkward and mathematically dumb system of measurement.
    A substantial fraction of UK voters have just condemned Britain to a dangerously uncertain future with no evidence that it will ultimately pay off, just (so we are now being told) to knock the establishment.
    I call that and the resistance to metrication (just because it supposedly came from Brussels) cutting off one's nose to spite one's face!

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  12. Ezra Steinberg says:

    So, I find this under "Weights and Measures: The Law" on the GOV.UK web site (last updated in April of last year):

    "You must use metric measurements (grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres) when selling packaged or loose goods in England, Scotland or Wales.

    The only products you can sell in imperial measures are:
    * draught beer or cider by pint
    * milk in returnable containers by pint
    * precious metals by troy ounce

    You can display an imperial measurement alongside the metric measurement but it can’t stand out more than the metric measurement."

    So, it doesn't appear that a local council can legally allow a shop to display only Imperial signs (or even signs with large imperial units and tiny metric units) nor can it allow a shop to record the sale (transaction) in anything other than metric.

    Now, whether a small shop would ever be prosecuted for infractions is another matter entirely. 😉

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  13. Martin Vlietstra says:

    The EU decision to "force the UK to use metric units" should be read in the context of EU Directive 71/354/EEC - (published in 1971 before the UK joined the EEC) - (See Wikipedia for more details - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_units_of_measurement_directives). If one reads the text of the original EEC directive, one will see that units of measure that were prescribed (Chapter III of the directive) included the kilogramme-force, the "technical atmposphere", Pferdestarke, cheval vapeur, calorie and many others. The text of that directive can be found at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:31971L0354&from=EN. Directive 71/354/EEC was superseded by directive 80/181/EEC.

    PS - I scored 100% in the Daily Telegraph test.

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  14. jackthesmilingblack says:

    Let me share with you a litle gem from AutoExpress.
    "Wet grip
    The second chart shows the amount of grip the tyre can generate on a wet road, using the same A to G rating. The rule of thumb is that the stopping distance from 50mph between each grade is between one and two car lengths.
    The difference between the stopping distance of an A and G-rated tyre could be 18 metres."
    Speed in miles per hour, stopping distance in metres. You couldn't make it up. In fact you don't need to make it up.

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  15. Shaun says:

    Like UKMA I have also noticed that measurement was kept out of the debate before the referendum. I can think of two possibilities on why that is: 1) After the EU postponed the proposed requirement for the import of metric-only labels the media lost their right to blame them for forced metrication.

    2) The Eurosceptic press decided to focus on the issues more likely to affect voting intentions such as immigration and sovereignty when looking for reasons to blame the EU.

    However the story of the Brexit butcher has also appeared in the Independent which is a centre-left compact. You can find out more by following this link to the article http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-butcher-begins-to-sell-meat-using-imperial-system-a7103516.html . By the looks of the article it looks like some are still hanging onto the myth that the EU is the main driving force behind metrication.

    With the EU having withdrawn its involvement in metrication several years ago I do not think progress would be any more advanced outside it.

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  16. Ezra Steinberg says:

    Based on real world experience from Canada and Ireland it is clear that conversion of the road signs to metric in the UK would have avoided this kind of mph with meters muddle. (And that can still work, if only DfT would do it!)

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  17. Daniel Jackson says:

    It seems there is an interesting side effect of Brexit. A brain drain. Over 100 000 UK citizens have applied for jobs in Germany.

    http://www.thelocal.de/jobs/article/tens-of-thousands-in-uk-flood-berlin-job-site-after-brexit

    Those with metric know-how will be able to give their talent to the Germans and help Germany continue to export metric made products while the leave camp struggles to make ends meet.

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  18. modernman says:

    "As for Scotland, if they do break-away, they will, I imagine, be as unlikely to dispense with imperial road signs..."
    Rubbish, I reckon
    Scotland will be only too keen to distance themselves (apologies for another pun) from England and Wales who seem intent on turning back the clock to the 19th century. What better way to show Scotland as a modern, forward-looking and full member of the EU by completing metrication? They don't even need to wait for independence as responsibility for road signs has now been devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

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  19. Michael Glass says:

    The DfT has already taken two baby steps in the direction of metrication. The first was to accept "t" for tonnes (rather than tons). The next was to introduce metric/imperial height and width signs. Not only that, but the metric figures are in a slightly larger font than the imperial signs.

    Duelling with dual is the kind of reform you have when you don't want reform. It's like the 1832 Reform Bill, less reform than you might think.

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  20. Ramsden says:

    The President of the Commission, J-C Juncker, put his finger on the problem when he said in not so many words, "You can't tell everyone for 35 years that the EU is rubbish, then suddenly expect to persuade them it is OK".

    Cast your mind back to May 2007. This from the Conservative MEP Monthly Report:

    "Success on Imperial measures

    A long-standing Conservative campaign to preserve miles, yards and pints finally paid off when it was announced that 'dual marking of goods' in both imperial and metric measures will 'Continue indefinitely'."

    And this from a press release from the DIUS in December 2008:

    "Government saves the pint and the mile

    (The Labour) Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, John Denham, whose department is responsible for weights and measures, said:

    'People in Britain like their pint and mile. They should be able to use the measures they are familiar with, and now they can be sure that they will continue to do so'."

    With friends like these, who needs enemies? King Edgar (see next article) would probably have been turning in his grave.

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  21. Daniel Jackson says:

    Michael,

    The road sign issue has a lot to do with who runs the DfT and their personal preference. The former Secretary of State, Hammond, was anti-metric and made it clear metric would not appear on road signs. He is gone and his replacement has reversed some of his thinking. Hammond assured the BWMA that dual height/width signs would not happen. He is now at the Foreign Office and has to "put up with" metric almost everywhere he goes.

    The DfT has to take baby steps. First replace imperial only with dual height/width signs. The next step once it is clear the majority won't care or notice is to go to dual distance and speed signs (hopefully not), then to remove imperial altogether.

    With Brexit and the chance of a failing economy, the monies needed to make any further changes may not happen or be delayed. But, whatever the case, the law needs to be amended to remove any clause that prohibits metric and simply allows it. This being the case, metric signs will appear by metric supporting businesses and individuals who will want them. It would also put ARM out of business.

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  22. Daniel Jackson says:

    Ramsden,

    The question one needs to ask is "What has changed since 2008"? Have businesses that have used metric only started adding imperial? How many products (what percentage) contain an imperial supplement?

    At least since 2008, there has been a change in the road sign issue where height and width signs must now show metric.

    As for those shops "selling" in pounds, is it just ads or are the scales still that way too? To businesses selling new scales do they still make scales with a pound option or are those older scales? If the scale companies make scales for sale with only kilograms as the option, then it is just a matter of time before the pound or scales with a pound option wear out and can only be replaced with a kilogram option.

    The chain stores often lease scales and after the contract is up get new scales with a new contract. The older scales are often refurbished and sold cheaply to those needing newer scales. If refurbished scales once had a pound option, new software or circuit boards that eliminate that option can be employed.

    Thus we need to rely on the scale makers to make and sell kilogram only scales and in time the pounds will disappear.

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  23. John Frewen-Lord says:

    @Daniel Jackson:
    A good friend of mine (who I'm afraid to say voted to leave) has a daughter who speaks fluent German and is married to a German who runs a banking recruitment business in London. In the last ten days, his business has collapsed. She is 'furious' (my friend's word) that he and his wife (her parents) both voted to leave.

    My neighbour is involved in the shipping business, bringing in ships into the port of Immingham, from where they are offloaded and the goods sent to not only the UK but through the Channel Tunnel into mainland Europe. While his business has not collapsed, it is down to barely more than half what it was, as ships are now going direct to Denmark and Germany - ports that are more expensive to process transhipment of goods, but will now get this business as they are of course in the EU.

    This is nothing to do with metrication of course (but is to do with Brexit), but does show that real people are being hurt, and that the UK is going to have to move heaven and earth to even get back to where it was. The more it shuns world standards (including metrication), the more it will slide into economic disaster.

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  24. Daniel Jackson says:

    http://metricviews.org.uk/2016/06/where-does-brexit-leave-metrication/comment-page-1/#comment-49206

    Another article on the same shop. More details.

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  25. Daniel Jackson says:

    "He is now at the Foreign Office and has to “put up with” metric almost everywhere he goes. "

    I don't remember putting this into my comment. It also appears that a comment about the new director of the DfT not informing BWMA of their decision to add metric to height/width signs was deleted.

    I don't mind if someone adds pertinent information to my post, but it should be added as an editors note, not an outright addition or deletion.

    Editor:
    Noted.
    Philip Hammond was Secretary of State for Transport not director of the DfT - an elected politician, not an appointed official. I admit to amending this in your first post. In accordance with your request, I have refrained from doing so in the second.
    It is understandable how a resident of the USA might be confused. The separation of powers - between government and legislature - was introduced by those drafting the US Constitution in 1787 to correct a perceived failing of the British system of government.
    What is interesting is that, despite very different systems of government, both the US and the UK have gone down a similar route to metrication and have arrived at a similar mess. Australia and New Zealand, on the other hand, with systems of government very similar to that of the UK, have achieved a very different outcome. There must be a lesson for us there.

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  26. Ron Donnelly says:

    I'm bemused. In 1980 I graduated as a Civil Engineer. In 1981, 35 years ago, I worked as a site engineer on a multi-storey concrete-frame office building in Croydon -- from a green site to topping-out. The ground workers were Gaelic speaking working-class Irish men from Connemara, the shuttering carpenters were Caribbeans mostly from Jamaica. The steel fixers were Brits, the concrete gang was working-class Irish, many of the labourers were old Polish with roots in UK from the second world war. The average age of operatives was say 30, all of them working class, semi-skilled, ill-educated, all fantastic people. The whole site worked in SI units (mm/metres) which *every* man was totally conversant with. These people will now be pushing 70. As well as construction, engineering was exactly the same 35 yrs ago. So I can’t understand why the Daily Mail and others push imperial units, saying it is for their older generation readers. Anyone, in any way technical, has worked in metric as far back as anyone can remember.

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  27. Ron Donnelly says:

    Following from previous post, in 1983, I worked on the M1 motorway as part of a 'dipping gang'. This is where young site engineers were employed to provide measurements to 1 mm accuracy across the carriageway as part of of resurfacing works, allowing asphalt machines to set their blades. It was a high intensity task that worked though the night with a backload of asphalt trucks and angry piece time operatives pushing, and clerk of works checking. It bemused me that *all* drawings and measurements for all UK motor way work (35 yrs ago) were in metric....until the final signage was erected (with signs in miles and yards). Lighting is erected at 25 m centres. Even today metric waypost signs can be seen on motorways (if you look out). Bizarre?

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  28. derekp says:

    @Ron D
    I joined the construction industry in 1965, and participated in the transition to metric. I remember how smoothly it went. With hindsight, this should not have been a surprise as we were moving from a measurement system that defied logic to a much simpler one.
    Today, I am puzzled that some market traders, tabloid proprietors and journalists, not to mention our current, but soon to be ex, Prime Minister, who may regard themselves as superior to mere construction workers, can not or will not get their heads round a change that would make everyone's lives much easier.
    Now that the EU bogey is about to be laid to rest, they will either have to find another excuse for their ignorance, whether willful or accidental, or take the sensible way out and start to 'think metric'.

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  29. Martin Vlietstra says:

    Try reading this:

    In line with most countries, South African purchase orders
    In ooreenstemming met die meeste lande, is die terme en
    had terms and conditions printed on the reverse side of the
    voorwaardes op Suid-Afrika se bestellingforme op die agterkant
    form. Since South African law required them to be in both
    van die vorm gedruk. Sedert Suid-Afrikaanse reg verwag dat albei
    English and Afrikaans, during the 1960s they were translated
    Engels en Afrikaans op die vorms gebruik is, is hulle gedurende
    line by line, making them almost unreadable.
    die 1960's lyn vir lyn vertaal dus is hulle byna onleesbaar.
    (Who needs fine print?)
    (Wie fynskrif nodig?)

    Now try mixing up imperial and metric units - maybe people who do that are really trying to hide the real measurements, just as the lawyers were trying to hide the real terms and conditions in South Africa.

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  30. Fin Ally says:

    Brexit will leave metrication where it has been since before I was born, neither repealed or fully implemented and I don't expect it to change before I am dead and gone in another 50 years or so (given average life expectancy of my age cohort).

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  31. Michael Glass says:

    Probably the snail's pace of change will continue.

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  32. dave says:

    regarding Scotland road signs...

    The Scotland Act 2016, which was put into effect 3.5 months ago, devolved those powers to the Scottish government including speed limits. Therefore the Scottish government can switch to km and km/h without becoming an independent country or re-joining the EU.

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  33. While we are not surprised by frequent praise of National Socialist and French Revolutionary Regimes, is this passive approval of South African Apartheid truly a stance that the UK Metric Association does not wish to denounce?

    This is a bridge too far.

    And I do not mean this as a means to an end in promoting Imperial measure. It truly is far beyond any cause in measure and I find it reprehensible that South African policies concerning measure or (White) languages are being mentioned by someone who has clearly benefited from those vile policies. I truly wonder what became of Black South Africans who opposed metrication: Were they 'disappeared' by the South African secret police?

    I think we can all agree that the use of such vile tactics, regardless of a stance on measurement, rises above any of our differences and needs to be vehemently denounced.

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  34. Mark Williams says:

    @Martin Vlietstra:

    Wow, that looks like a Welsh road sign, complete with `yards' and `llath' and sited in metres :-).

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  35. Ezra Steinberg says:

    It appears to me that the SNP will try to strike a deal with the EU that, should they become independent, they would be "grandfathered" into the EU as a member state with the same status and conditions that they had as part of the UK (with maybe some tweaks).

    If that turns out to be the case, I'm thinking the option of independence will become attractive to a majority of likely voters in a referendum on the independence of Scotland from the UK since it would provide a seamless transition to maintain the status quo ante vis-a-vis the EU. And then I suspect it would not take much to convince the Scottish government to convert road signs in a manner very much like the way the Irish did it (as well as do away with supplementary indications on product packaging, etc.)

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  36. Daniel Jackson says:

    Dave,

    Are metric road signs in Scotland legal? ARM claims metric road signs are illegal. Is that true everywhere in the UK or just England or possibly nowhere.

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  37. Alex Bailey says:

    @Daniel Jackson I don’t believe there is anything that specifically says metric road signs are illegal per se, only clauses in TSRGD that state that metric measurements may not be used on certain specific signs.

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  38. We do not 'claim' anything Mr Schweisthal. There are well documented test cases and legal interpretations available on our website, not that any facts or statistics would ever be successful in altering your rhetoric and propaganda, would they?

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  39. Mr Bailey: There are also test cases and legal precedents (1981) that permit a person to pull down or obscure an unauthorised sign.

    Metric tends to fit this description, and we have taken the liberty of doing so over three thousands times since our inception June 2001.

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  40. Alex Bailey says:

    @ARM the problem with your argument is that any such “legal precedent” creates a situation which in your eyes has clearly decriminalised what is nothing more than vandalism.

    Many of the signs which have been defaced by your group (or others acting in some misguided act of anti-metrication) were perfectly legal; I’ve seen perfectly legal height/width limit roundels and white-on-blue textual information signs with the metric measure unnecessarily painted over.

    The people of our country have been shown to be intelligent enough to understand metric signs when presented with them so even those put up “illegally” on public highways do not actually present any real danger, what does present danger is stickers and paint that may not be non-reflective or may actually remove, obscure or confuse information vital to the safety of road users.

    And as for changing signs on public footpaths, that’s just being petty and wasteful of taxpayers money.

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  41. jackthesmilingblack says:

    The on-going "Metric Martyrs" in the Spectator leaves me close to despair. "Why am I surounded by fools and lunatics?"

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  42. jackthesmilingblack says:

    For literally thousands of years there has been conflict between common sense and rational thinking. Common sense would have you believe that the Earth is flat, the sky revolves around us, and Planet Earth is the centre of the Universe. Rational thinking has finally got mankind to realise that the Earth orbits the Sun. But the battle isn't over yet.
    Clinging to Imperial/USCS measurement terms is part of this conflict. Common sense prefers human body based measurements while rational thinking wants to complete the switch to the more logical metric system. The outcome is inevitable, the only question is how long before the Luddite segment of the population get with the programme?
    Or better yet, die out.

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  43. Ezra Steinberg says:

    Scotland's roads need major repairs:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-36964236

    If Brexit means Scotland leaves the UK to stay in the EU, perhaps they'll add some money to their road repairs to convert road signs as well to metric! 🙂

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  44. John Frewen-Lord says:

    @Ezra:

    Scotland is actually a bit between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, it wants to be free from being 'ruled' by Westminster (even though Holyrood has quite a lot of autonomy). OTH, that sentiment doesn't quite square with being subject to all the laws, regulations and directives emanating from Brussels. And that is before we consider that Scotland cannot survive economically at the moment without help from England, not only due to low oil prices, but also due to a bloated public sector in the Scottish economy.

    Sturgeon consequently is playing it very quiet at the moment. Yes, she met with Juncker et al after the referendum, but I don't think she made much real headway. With the oncoming downturn in the British economy post-Brexit, I don't think there will be much enthusiasm for any 'vanity' projects. Unfortunately, converting road signs will likely fall into that category.

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  45. Stan says:

    Jackthesmilingblack

    There is no common sense in preferring human body based measurements as you put it. If the foot was any use we'd all take the same shoe size!

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  46. Martin Vlietstra says:

    @Active Resistance to Metrication "I truly wonder what became of the Black South Africans who opposed metrication".

    Having lived in South Africa at the time the only opposition to metrication that I was aware of came from local government officials in pro-government municipalities who did not want the bother of change. Generally the South African government did a reasonably good job of currency decimalisation (they were hot on people trying to profiteer) and I am not aware that the black people suffered any real problems. Thus the government were trusted with the metrication programme. It is noteworthy that countries like Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana were metricating at the same time as South Africa and metrication in all countries was seen as casting off a legacy of colonialism.

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  47. Daniel says:

    Canada is a "little bigger" than the UK. If we have been able to go fully metric within 2 years without troubles (except for the construction industry), I don't see should you have any.. Can't possibly cost more than it did in Canada.. People were not opposed to the Metric System in Canada though, but many people in the UK seem to be, as though it's something unpatriotic. Same goes with the USA, which was supposed to adopt it decades ago but dropped it.

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  48. Stephen Wolstenholme says:

    People like me who were educated in the 1950's using both imperial and metric measures have no problems working in any arithmetic bases be they binary, metric, imperial or even yondles per inch!

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