Last reviewed 1 February 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has held wide ranging discussions with senior business leaders on finding ways to cut red tape, which could extend to environmental regulations.

The call for ideas came in a video conference hosted by Johnson as part of a drive to rebuild working relations with the business community post Brexit. According to a report in Bloomberg, the Prime Minister asked business leaders to help him decide which regulations should be removed, now that the UK has completed its divorce from the European Union.

But business chiefs warned against wholesale deregulation in the UK. Anne Richards, Chief Executive of Fidelity International, told Bloomberg that the Government should focus on “re-regulation” — reshaping regulation in response to the post-pandemic environment — rather than deregulation, “with the aim of creating a financial universe fit for the 21st century”.

Miles Celic, Chief Executive of TheCityUK, which represents financial services companies told the meeting that the UK had already done “a superb job of getting its voice heard” on EU regulatory debates. “As such, it’s not a surprise that the UK industry is broadly content with the regulation that we’ve just onshored — the UK was, after all, the main architect,” he added.

However, in a recent address to the Westminster Energy and Environment Forum, Environment Agency Chief Executive, Sir James Bevan, said he welcomed the Prime Minister’s intervention and that now was a good time to debate future environmental regulations.

“We want to maintain and where possible enhance the environmental protections we already have, much of which… was written by UK experts. But we also think that not all EU environmental regulation is perfect, either because the goals it sets are not the right ones or because the methods specified are not the best ones for actually delivering the outcomes we want,” Bevan said.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who will lead a cross-Whitehall committee on cutting red tape, said: “Now that we have left the European Union, we have an opportunity to do things differently and this government is committed to making the most of the freedoms that Brexit affords us.”