Minister fails to convert universally understood imperial units as Boris pedals change

Mark Francois: using Imperial system is about 'freedom of choice'

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Lord Parkinson made the embarrassing gaffe amid reports that the Government will launch a consultation on potentially bringing imperial measures back. Appearing on Sky News, the arts minister was initially asked how many ounces are in a pound – to which he incorrectly said 14.

Host Kay Burley then asked: “If you are ordering a pound of sausages, approximately how many grams of sausages are you getting? 250, 350, 450, or 550?”

Lord Parkinson, who studied at Cambridge University, chose the first answer, again, incorrectly, before being asked which volume was greater – four pints or three litres.

“Three pints?” he answered.

It comes after Downing Street has insisted that imperial measurements are “universally understood”.

According to reports, the change back to imperial measurement is not just motivated by Britain’s departure from the EU but also to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Number 10 has rejected claims that the proposed move is a planned distraction from the partygate debacle.

The European Union introduced legislation forcing traders to use the metric system for sale-by-weight produce in 2000.

Although it remained legal to to price goods in pounds and ounces the price in kgs and grams had to be displayed as well. 

In effect, the UK used both metric and imperial weights in this context.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told Sky News that it gave people a “choice”.

He said: “There are sectors out there – I know people out there in my constituency, the market traders and vegetable traders as well as some of the pubs – which will be pleased to be able to go back to those imperial measurements.

“We’re just saying you now have a choice, and now we’ve left the EU we can do that. 

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“Yes, it is one of the smaller things we can do since we left the EU, there are other bigger things we can do and want to do, but it is an indication we now have the freedom to make these decisions ourselves.”

However, the proposal has not been entirely well received by Tory MPs with Alicia Kearns MP for Rutland and Melton branding it a “nonsense”.

Former Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said the idea was nostalgic and not “one nation Conservative thinking”.

He said: “There is not only just a concern on the conduct of behaviour in Number 10 because that has breached the trust with the British people, it is now concerns about Number 10 thinking, what our policies are.

“What we are now seeing is an approach to shore up and chase a slice off the electorate with policies such as bringing back imperial measurements.

“There will be some people in our party which will like this nostalgic policy in the hope that it’s enough to win the next election. But this is not the case.

“This is not one-nation Conservative thinking that is required to appeal beyond our base.

“It’s far from the inspirational, visionary progressive thinking that we require.

“And it fits into a pattern I am afraid of micro-announcements that are increasingly thrown out there, which actually is sowing further discontent with more MPs.”

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