Shops are to be allowed to sell products in pounds and ounces again after the government pledged to review a ban on marking and selling products in imperial units as part of post-Brexit changes to EU laws.
Brexit minister Lord Frost set out plans on Thursday to ditch EU rules that no longer suit the UK following its depature from the bloc last year.
The government intends to review the content of retained EU law – which was preserved in UK law for continuity after the transition period ended in December 2020.
A document titled “Brexit opportunities: regulatory reforms” includes plans to permit the voluntary printing of the crown stamp on pint glasses and review the EU ban on markings and sales in pounds and ounces, with legislation set to come “in due course”.
Other reforms include introducing digital driving licences, test certificates and MOT processes.
Boris Johnson said that he would bring imperial units back to shops as part of his pitch to voters in the 2019 general election, promising “an era of generosity and tolerance towards traditional measurements”.
On Thursday, Lord Frost also claimed that “gloom-mongers” had been proved wrong following the UK’s exit from the EU.
“A lot of things haven’t happened that the gloom-mongers said would happen and I don’t think are going to happen,” the minister told peers.
However, critics have argued that Brexit has exacerbated the issue of shortages in shops across the UK in recent weeks, as well as causing ongoing uncertainty over Northern Ireland’s trading arrangements.
Earlier this month, the head of the Food and Drink Federation warned Britons that staff shortages, triggered by Covid and Brexit, had damaged the “just-in-time” delivery model, meaning food shortages in supermarkets and restaurants were now “permanent”.
Despite this, Lord Frost claimed that the UK’s economy was “prospering vastly” under the arrangements put in place by the government.
He added that the purpose of the reforms was to “improve the productivity of the UK by putting in place regulations that are tailored to our conditions”.
Other plans put forward by the government include allowing shareholders to use digital certificates instead of paper and changing regulations governing clinical trials and medical devices.
“We are a high standards country. That doesn’t mean we don’t intend to change them. The world moves on,” Lord Frost insisted.
“High standards need to reflect the context we are operating in. I am sure there will be change, but don’t believe those changes will result in regression of standards.”
On Thursday, Labour’s shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry dismissed the government’s plans, arguing that the title “Brexit opportunities” had been badly chosen due to current supply shortages on supermarket shelves.
Ms Thornberry told the Commons that the country was facing “continuing shortages of staff and supplies exacerbated by the government’s Brexit deal, while businesses across the country face mounting losses in trade with Europe”.
She also warned that people in Northern Ireland remained “stuck in limbo as the government refuses to implement the Brexit deal that they negotiated”.
Additional reporting by PA
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