News | Published February 25 2020

Leith Planning reflect CBI sentiment as Johnson prepares for Brussels trade talks

A Confederation of British Industry [CBI] report released this week echoed town planning consultancy Leith Planning’s appeal for reduced red tape and bureaucracy, as Boris Johnson and his team prepare to head to the negotiating table with the EU over a future trade deal.

The CBI’s director-general Carolyn Fairbairn called on the prime minister to ensure a future trade deal keeps bureaucracy at a minimum to maintain a strong economy, as the UK prepares to finalise its negotiating strategy and sign off on its demands to Brussels.

CBI director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said: “With [trade] talks now in touching distance, the CBI has asked employers across the country what practical outcomes they need from the future EU relationship so they can concentrate on what they do best: investing, innovating, creating jobs and supporting a strong economy.

“The message is clear: keep trade easy and minimise red tape. For this reason, British firms back many of the government’s objectives set out in the negotiating mandate, such as on zero tariffs and data.”

Well prior to the release of the CBI report, executive chairman of Leith Planning, Chris Plenderleith, had spoken to The Parliamentary Review about his concerns surrounding red tape and bureaucracy. 

Plenderleith believes that both issues weigh heavily on management in politics and, as a knock-on effect, on the economy itself.

The solution, Plenderleith says, can be found through greater agility and simplification in government processes, adding that businesses and organisations can be looked upon as examples.

Plenderleith said: "Agility is not a word often used in relation to government; there are, however, organisations that are clearly leading the way in delivering a social agenda with collaboration and agility.

"Management in politics can often seem to be weighed down in part by unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy; adopting systems which are streamlined and agile is a positive move that saves time and taxpayer money.”

Keeping bureaucracy at a minimum, in Plenderleith’s view, will be key for generating confidence, and in turn, economic growth, very much in line with the views of the CBI put forward this week.

He explained: "Economic growth, for example, can only be delivered by generating confidence – be that confidence in government or management.”

Whether the outcome of trade talks will keep red tape at the minimum businesses desire remains to be seen.

The government’s approach is expected to centre around obtaining a Canada-style trade deal with zero tariffs, although EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has poured cold water on this prospect.

Barnier and other EU officials to date, including European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, have insisted that the UK must sign up to a level playing field on common rules and standards for any trade deal to materialise.

However, this idea has been emphatically dismissed by the UK's chief negotiator David Frost, Boris Johnson himself, and foreign secretary Dominic Raab.

Negotiations with the EU will begin in earnest on March 2.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
February 25 2020

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