Why would Boris Johnson want to bring back imperial units?

When reports surfaced that Boris Johnson would be announcing the return of imperial measurements to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee, there was some celebration, consternation, and a lot of confusion. Britain already uses a mix of both imperial and metric, and it is legal to price goods in pounds and ounces if this is displayed alongside the price in grams and kilograms. So what’s really behind this rekindled debate over units? Science editor Ian Sample speaks to author and metrology historian James Vincent about the rise of metric, the enduring political power of measurement, and why it’s unlikely we’ll be getting rid of pints in pubs any time soon.


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