The great British pint is set for a triumphant return after a post-Brexit bonfire of Brussels’ red tape that will ditch the EU ban on the Crown Stamp on glasses of beer, the Government announced on Thursday.
For centuries, a crown and certification number were printed on pint and half-pint glasses to reassure suspicious drinkers they were not being tricked by unscrupulous landlords.
Despite a battle to save the iconic brand, which was introduced in 1699, the Crown Stamp was replaced in 2007 with the EU’s CE mark, which means “European Conformity”.
Brussels had introduced EU-wide rules governing the size and safety of glasses, which the UK had to follow because it was a member of the bloc.
The Government released details of its plan to reintroduce the Crown Stamp as Lord Frost vowed that Britain would ditch all of Brussels’ rules and regulations that did not suit the UK after Brexit.
“Our intention is eventually to amend, to replace, or to repeal all that retained EU law that is not right for the UK,” he said in the House of Lords before predicting an overhaul of EU rules for financial services, data protection, medical testing and GMO crops.
“We will remove the EU-derived prohibition on printing the Crown Stamp on pint glasses and allowing publicans and restaurants to voluntarily embrace this important symbol on their glassware, should they choose to do so,” the Government said.
It added that there would be a review on retained EU restrictions on selling in pounds and ounces.
After Brexit took legal effect on Dec 31, the CE mark was replaced with the UKCA capacity verification mark, which will continue to be displayed on new pint glasses.
“We opposed its removal 14 years ago, and look forward to seeing the return of the traditional British pint mark on glasses,” said Tom Stainer, the chief executive Campaign for Real Ale.
Tim Martin, the Brexiteer chairman of the Wetherspoons pub chain, told The Telegraph: “I’ve certainly no objection to it. But even the most die hard monarchist will find it hard to get enthusiastic.
“What we’d really love is some government initiatives to decrease costs for businesses which we can pass on to customers. This Government is addicted to PR initiatives. I’m sure I’m being cynical, but I hope this isn’t another one.”
“Many pub goers will be pleased to see the return of the Crown pint mark. The Government must now continue to support our pubs and brewers by delivering a package in the Budget that helps their recovery,” said Emma McClarkin, the former Tory MEP and CEO of the British Beer & Pub Association.
Warwick Cairns, of the British Weights and Measures Association, said the removal of the Crown Stamp was an example of “cultural tinkering”.
The campaigner said that if the Government genuinely wanted to review the use of pounds and ounces, it would be “great” to give people the choice to use imperial in certain circumstances.
Overbearing regulations cut
Lord Frost refused to give a timeline on the planned regulatory revamp because of the volume and complexity of EU laws built up over nearly 50 years of membership.
Those rules, including on glass size, were transposed into post-Brexit national law when the UK left the Single Market and Customs Union on Dec 31 last year.
Lord Frost told peers that many inherited EU laws reflected “unsatisfactory compromises” between member states and did not have sufficient “democratic scrutiny in the UK”.
British businesses were being put at a competitive disadvantage because EU exporters had less red tape to deal with after controls on EU imports were delayed for the third time this week, peers told Lord Frost.
The EU introduced full customs checks on UK imports on Jan 1, which was the first day that Brexit took legal effect.
British border controls are “unlikely” to be as tough as the EU’s, even when the UK does finally introduce delayed customs checks on imports from the Continent in July next year, Lord Frost said.
He said Britain’s new border would be lighter touch with fewer physical checks
He said: “It makes sense for us to put in place the controls are right for us. We do not have to replicate everything the European Union does. We intend to have a world class border by 2025.”
An EU diplomat from a major member state told The Telegraph: “Lord Frost has just saved Christmas for EU exporters: Brexit shields them from UK competition in the EU’s single market while they still get unfettered access to the UK market – at least for a few more months.
“You can hear the champagne popping on this side of the channel. EU exporters hope for many more delays.”
The history of the Crown Stamp
The iconic Crown Stamp proudly adorned British pint glasses for more than 300 years and was a guarantee that the pint or half pint glass you were handed was genuine.
It was introduced in 1699 in the reign of King William III to stop unscrupulous publicans ripping off their punters by serving drinks in smaller glasses.
Innkeepers faced a penalty of up to forty shillings if they didn’t serve ale in vessel marked with WR and the crown, when the rules were introduced.
The Weights and Measures Act of 1824 and the Act of 1878 created the British Imperial System and the Crown Stamp, as it would be recognised today.
At the same time a newly independent America adopted a system based on the rules Britain had just discarded.
In more recent times, a certification number underneath traced the glass back to the weights and measures inspector responsible for certifying it.
The Crown Stamp endured for centuries, becoming a cornerstone of British life. But while it survived two World Wars and the crumbling of the Empire, it didn’t stand a chance against Brussels.
The crown was lost in 2007 after new EU rules, the Measuring Instruments Directive, was introduced, which covered the size of glasses.
It replaced the Crown Stamp with the CE mark, which stands for “conformité européenne” or European conformity. It is used across Europe to certify that products from toys to pint glasses conform to EU standards.
Pubs and brewers pleaded unsuccessfully with then prime minister Tony Blair to save the crown and allow it to be displayed alongside the CE symbol.
There was no legal requirement to stop using glasses already marked with the Crown Stamp, which would have the word pint emblazoned above the royal symbol.
Its loss was soon added to a string of Brexiteer grievances such as the ditching of pounds and ounces, and the replacing of blue passports with EU red.
After Brexit, the CE mark on new pint glasses was replaced with the UKCA capacity verification mark.
There were fears that the Crown Stamp would fade into history but it was ultimately saved by Brexit.