Metric system banned and regions axed – shock announcement from the Ministry for Brexit Opportunities reveals first wave of EU regulations to be repealed

Jacob-Rees-Mogg

Rees-Mogg acts to target the metric system, regions, bananas, horse meat and golf courses in major post-Brexit legal reform

Jacob Rees-Mogg was appointed Secretary of State for Brexit Opportunities (BO) in February 2022. One of his tasks was to repeal some of the EU laws which have been incorporated onto the UK statute books since the UK joined the then EEC in 1973. There have been over 52,000 of these so Rees-Mogg and his team certainly have no shortage of choice. But where might they decide to start?

Earlier this week, Penny Post learned that BO officials were about to announce some of the legislation which will be culled as part of this post-Brexit re-boot. We contacted Rees-Mogg’s Press Secretary Trixie Dock-Green who was able to give us a summary 9which was embargoed until 1 April).

“First of all,” she said, “there’s the problem of the metric system. For decades we’ve been all muddled up in this country with two systems on the go at the same time. I mean, if you’re trying to measure up for curtains or bake a cake, or watching the help do it, you don’t know whether it’s inches, centimetres, ounces or what the hell. This can’t do on.” She outlined Rees-Mogg’s preferred solution.

“For some time, it was illegal to use imperial weights and measures in the UK. Remember those metric martyrs? They won’t have died in vain. As soon as possible we’re going to make the metric system illegal in the UK. See how they like it.” We suggested that it was unlikely to bother Brussels very much but that about 3.5 million EU national lived in the UK would probably find this very inconvenient. “Well, quite,” she said.

She added that poles, rods, ounces, chains, quarts, yards, acres and all the rest of them would soon be making a return to classrooms from September 2022. We asked what the NUT and other professional bodies thought about this. “Are you crazy?” she laughed. “We haven’t told them. No point really as we know they’ll just stamp their feet and say that it’s unacceptable, blah blah, the teachers don’t know this stuff either. Well, hello – it will give them something to do in the summer holidays.”

She next turned to the future of the UK’s 12 regions. “These were imposed on us by the EU and were mainly used for their elections which obviously won’t be happening again. The easy option would be just to abolish them but then we thought – hey, we can go one better. I mean, look at them!” She waved a map. We said that the divisions seemed logical enough.

“Wrong!” she replied. “OK, look at Cheshire. That’s got much more in common with, say, Surrey than it does with Lancashire but it’s lumped in with it. Then there are places like Cumbria and Somerset – quite nice to visit but hardly anyone lives there. So they have something in common as well. See what I mean? In fact, our view is that you often have more affinity with people hundreds of miles away that with your neighbours.” We pointed out that the Brexit position during the referendum campaign had been the polar opposite of this but she was already gushingly explaining further details of the scheme.

In so far as we understood it – and she stressed that it was still all at the “blue-sky, left-field, top-level thought-shower ideation phase” –  the UK would still be divided into regions but that their groupings would be, rather than geographic, based on a combination of criteria such as wealth, dietary preferences, life expectancy and the number of labradors, Oxbridge graduates and National Trust properties. The regions would be graded so as to, as she explained, “reward excellence,” with the results being used as a basis for allocating funding, planning royal visits and selecting the recipients of OBEs. There would also be a league-table system of promotion and relegation “to encourage healthy competition and extend the principles of the free market into the very fabric of our collective national psycho-geography.”

We suggested that, practical objections aside, this would be a deeply divisive initiative with some areas relegated to twelfth-class status. “So?” she retorted. “That happens anyway. Everyone thinks that the people in the next county are a bunch of inbred, knuckle-dragging, animal-molesting morons. At least the new proposal expresses this as a rational and empirical construct with a clear carrot-and-stick dynamic.” We dutifully wrote this phrase down.

Other plans include repealing the EU directive from 2010 that gives people “the right to be forgotten.” This is, she suggested, “a terrible indictment of the organisation that introduced it. Nobody should be forgotten. The UK is, in a very real sense, a caring society and likes to look after – or at least remember – everyone, even if we didn’t know who they were in the first place.” We pointed out that this law was in fact limited to a specific data-protection issue. “That’s just the way it was spun by Brussels,” she replied, although we noticed that she immediately drew a line through a paragraph in her notes with her Mont Blanc fountain pen.

There were also a host of other EU-inspired regulations which would, she promised, soon be wiped away. These included laws that made it illegal for bananas to be sold by the dozen, for diabetics to hail taxis, for Cornish pasties to be marketed as such in Wales, for ravens to be fed horse-meat, for chocolate to be sold on Sundays during Lent and for shops at golf courses to stock bed linen. “All these restrictions have held back British enterprise for far too long,” she concluded. “These and many more will soon be gone, freeing the shackles of our hard-working families and innovative business leaders and letting the country realise its full potential.”

We thanked Dock-Green for her time. “Oh, one more thing” she said as she showed us to the lift. “The limit on 48 hours work per week. That’s deffo going to go. Why should people be prevented from working for as long as they want, or as long as their companies decide they need to? After all, with the cost of living going up, people are going to need more money, right? Just to pay the gas bills. It seems wrong to stop them.”

We asked her how many hours a week she herself worked. “Well, “she said coyly, “that would be telling. I was at Downing Street during the pandemic and it was go-go-go there, I can tell you. The PM was, of course, really hands-on…” Our eyebrows raised but she appeared not to notice. “Yes, he was always rushing in and saying that Jonathan van Tam’s speech needed rewriting or that Chris Whitty’s slides had to be edited. Happy days…and well over the 48 hours, natch. So a lot of the work was done at the parties. Well, for the first ten minutes and the first drink, anyway. After that – woooooh! Work hard, play hard…”

We said that we thought the various events in and around Downing Street had been strictly work affairs. Her expression clouded. “Whatever,” she said quickly.

Behind us, the lift pinged and the doors slid open. We thanked her again for her time, exchanged elbow-bumps and took our leave.

Brian Quinn

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The image at the top of this post was taken from this article in Open Democracy.

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2 Responses

    1. I learned after having written it that JR-M had, when taking over the job, given his staff a number of style instructions when writing. One of these was always to use Imperial measurements. So, yes: they probably think it’s true as well. May yet be…
      Brian Quinn

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