The End of Metric? A Post-Brexit System of Measurements

When the UK joined the EEC in 1973 it was obliged to adopt the SI (Système International) units of measurement.  This included units such as millimetres, centimetres, metres and kilometres.  After Brexit, Britain will of course no longer be permitted to use this Metric system of measurement and a new system will need to be introduced.

Return to Imperial?

Although Imperial measurements, such as the inch, foot, yard and mile, are still commonly used throughout the United Kingdom, it was considered to be a backward step to return to Imperial units.

Instead, in order to better reflect the independent and idiosyncratic nature of a post-Brexit Britain, it has been agreed that an entirely new system of measurement will be introduced throughout the country.

Advancing existing research

Advancing earlier research carried out on the topic by Mudskipper Press, a new system of post-Brexit (PB) measurement has now been agreed.  The rationale underpinning the new system has been to use terminology, which would already be familiar to all households, for ease of reference and implementation.

A list of the old Metric measurements and their post-Brexit equivalents is provided in the table below, plus a handy, quick converter, with example scenarios to illustrate correct use.

Post-Brexit (PB) units of measurement

Old Metric (SI) Unit  

New Post-Brexit (PB) Unit


Millimetre Head of a Pin
Centimetre Arm’s Length
Metre Double Decker Bus
Kilometre From Land’s End to John o’ Groats
Square Millimetre Head of a Pin
Square Centimetre Postage Stamp
Square Metre Football Pitch
Square Kilometre Wales
Cubic Millimetre Head of a Pin
Cubic Centimetre Goldfish Bowl
Cubic Metre Room to Swing a Cat
Cubic Kilometre Earth

Quick converter – distance

The new measurements for distance are the Head of a Pin; the Arm’s Length; the Double Decker Bus; and the From Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

  • 1 From Land’s End to John o’ Groats is the equivalent of 125,289 Double Decker Buses.
  • 1 Double Deck Bus is the equivalent of 14.97 Arm’s Lengths.
  • 1 Arm’s Length is the equivalent of 750 Head of a Pins.

Quick converter – area

The new measurements for area are the Head of a Pin; the Postage Stamp; the Football Pitch; and Wales.

  • 1 Wales is the equivalent of 2,861,974 Football Pitches.
  • 1 Football Pitch is the equivalent of 14,375,000 Postage Stamps.
  • 1 Postage Stamp is the equivalent of 504 Head of a Pins.

Quick converter – volume

The new measurements for volume are the Head of a Pin; the Goldfish Bowl; the Room to Swing a Cat; and the Earth.

  • 1 Earth is the equivalent of 6.178e+19 Rooms to Swing a Cat.
  • 1 Room to Swing a Cat is the equivalent of 2415 Goldfish Bowls.
  • 1 Goldfish Bowl is the equivalent of 7,238,000 Head of a Pins.

400 graph measurements

Scenario one – distance

A man is driving in his car when he spots a pedestrian on the pavement.  He brakes, pulls in to the curb, and rolls down his window.

“Excuse me, sir.  I’ve newly moved into this area.  Can you tell me how far it is to the nearest builder’s merchants?”

The pedestrian pauses to think:

“Well, there is one just around the corner, only 9 Double Decker Buses away.  But he doesn’t have a very good reputation.  You’d be better off carrying on to Baldwin’s.  It’s about fifteen minutes by car, roughly 0.005 From Land’s End to John o’ Groats.”

“That’s very kind of you.”

The man rolls up his window, and drives off.

Scenario two – area

The man is at Baldwin’s Builders Merchants.

“Can you tell me how much paint I need to cover the wall of my living room?”

The builder sucks on his teeth:

“Well, that all depends, guv.  How long is a piece of string?” (Nb. A Piece of String is not an officially designated post-Brexit (PB) unit of measurement.)  “Is your room a big room or a small room?”

The man takes a folded piece of paper from his pocket:

“I have the dimensions here.  The wall is 4 Arm’s Lengths by 5.33 Arm’s Lengths.

The builder does a quick mental calculation:

“That is an area of 0.0016 Football Pitches.  Better round it up to 0.002 Football Pitches to be on the safe side.  I’ve got the paint out the back.”

“That’s very kind of you.”

Scenario three – volume

When the builder returns, the man has an additional enquiry:

“I have a large trench to fill in my front drive.  Can I buy some sand and cement to make concrete in order to fill it in?”

“No, trouble, guv.  How big is your trench?”

The man refers to his piece of paper again:

“It is half a Double Decker Bus long, by 1 Arm’s Length wide, and 200 Head of a Pins deep.”

The builder does another quick mental calculation:

“That is a volume of 116 Goldfish Bowls.  I’ll put the bags of sand and cement in the back of your car.”

“That’s very kind of you.”

Transitional period

The Metric (SI) system will remain the standard system of measurement in the United Kingdom until March 2019.  After Brexit on 29 March 2019, there will be a transitional period until 31 December 2020 when both Metric (SI) and post-Brexit (PB) measurements will be used.  After 31 December 2020, only the post-Brexit (PB) system of measurements will be valid.

It is intended that this transitional period will permit businesses and institutions sufficient time to convert all their current Metric figures to PB values.

No time to lose

Don’t find yourself at a loss when the post-Brexit (PB) system of measurements is introduced.  There is no time like the present to start learning the new values.  Remember there are only 1,150,848,000 Jiffies until Brexit Day.


© The Mudskipper

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