It all seemed like such a good idea when the government proposed the law change in 2001: Eliminate Britain’s notorious 11 p.m. bar closing times, and the nation would become a more civilized place, reports the Chicago Tribune. Nightlife would thrive; residents and tourists alike would drink and eat continental-style into the early hours; and, most important, the British would start to lose their international reputation for drinking too heavily and getting into trouble. This was, after all, nearly 100 years after the 11 p.m. closing was imposed to keep munitions workers producing shells for World War I.
But that was 2001. Four years later and with the deadline for licensing applications under the pending law nearing, there are screams of alarm throughout the news media, police, courts and parliamentary circles that allowing Britons to drink longer will make matters worse. They will, so the new argument goes, get more drunk over more time, cause more trouble and fill up more hospitals, courtrooms and jails.