Red Tape Initiative

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The Red Tape Initiative was established in December 2016 by Oliver Letwin to identify and cut EU regulations – 'red tape' – that it sees as 'impeding business' as part of the Brexit process.

It describes itself as a 'non-partisan project, bringing together remainers and leavers in all three major UK-wide political parties to forge a consensus on the regulatory changes that could benefit both businesses and their employees in a post-Brexit Britain.'[1]


Beginning in April 2017, the initiative says it plans to launch around 10 sector-based inquiries. These inquiries will 'seek views on what EU constraints could be jettisoned in the interests of boosting productivity'.[2]

The plan is that senior figures from a sector are brought together, with the help of business lobby groups like the CBI, British Chambers of Commerce, Institute of Directors and others like the TUC. These sector experts will then draw up a 'wish list of regulatory and legislative changes after Brexit'. These are then sent to the Initiative's legal team (working pro bono), before making their way to a cross-party political advisory panel where hopefully a consensus can be reached on the merits of the proposals.[3]

The first sectors to be looked at are:[4]

  • housebuilding, beginning in June 2017 with an 'industry-sector panel with input from various groups including the TUC, CBI and the Home Builders Federation. It is expected to conclude early in 2018.
  • infrastructure construction
  • training and apprenticeships.

Brexit lobbying

Brexit badge.png Part of the Powerbase Brexit Portal.

Letwin says the project will play a role between the Great Repeal Bill (that will “repatriate” EU law to this country), and the negotiations required to create new trading terms with the remaining 27 member states.

According to Letwin, RTI is interested in identifying “quick win” burden removals that affect the UK, but are unlikely to be affected by trade negotiations. RTI's director Nick Tyrone added that the Initiative would recommend “things that are too small and technical to be taken into account by the wider Brexit negotiation,” he said, but which “could save millions of pounds to the public purse. Sometimes it could just be a case of taking out three words.[5]

“The aim is to get things prepared, perhaps in time for the commencement of the Brexit negotiations, and the introduction of the Great Reform Bill,” Letwin said. “This will be about things that could be changed quite quickly after that."[6]

Business secretary Greg Clark had written to the initiative, offering the cooperation of staff at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.


According to Politico and Greenpeace's investigative website Unearthed, RTI is funded by a 'small group of donors', including:

Lobbying connections

Policy Exchange
As George Monbiot pointed out in the Guardian in July 2017, the Red Tape Initiative has numerous links with the Policy Exchange think tank, or 'neoliberal lobby group funded by dark money' as Monbiot puts it.

    • Charles Moore, RTI advisory board member; former chair of Policy Exchange. Moore was also best man at Oliver Letwin’s wedding.
    • Archie Norman, RTI advisory board member; founder of Policy Exchange. Norman was once Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells and was succeeded in that seat by Greg Clark, the minister who now provides government support for the Red Tape Initiative.
    • Michael Gove, ex-RTI advisory board member (until he was made Environment Secretary in June 2017); appointed by Archie Norman as the first chairman of Policy Exchange (replaced by Moore).
    • Policy Exchange also supplied two of Letwin’s staff in the Conservative policy unit that he used to run.[8]

Hanbury Strategy
The lobbying firm set up by ex-Conservative adviser Ameet Gill and Brexit campaigner and former British Bankers' Association director, Paul Stephenson was commissioned by RTI in May 2017 to conduct 'in house research' and create a 'series of reports' that will be 'presented to the RTI in order to better inform its own campaign and supplement their own research efforts'.[9]

According to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointment, which 'approved' the commission, 'throughout the research project, Hanbury will not be working with other organisations and any work done with other organisations by the RTI, will be independent of Hanbury.

Two of Hanbury's employees work for the RTI.


Women are noticably under-represented in the initiative. None of its staff are women; only one of its four board members is a woman; two of its ten advisory board members are women; and there are no women on its legal panel (8 members).



Advisory Panel

Legal panel


Address: 76 Vincent Square, London, SW1P 2PD


  1. About, Red Tape Iniative website, accessed June 2017
  2. Letwin reveals details of Brexit-focused initiative to cut red tape, Civil Service World, 24 April 2017
  3. The other UK Brexit department, Politico, July 12, 2016
  4. Letwin reveals details of Brexit-focused initiative to cut red tape, Civil Service World, 24 April 2017
  5. The other UK Brexit department, Politico, July 12, 2016
  6. Letwin reveals details of Brexit-focused initiative to cut red tape, Civil Service World, 24 April 2017
  7. Who’s funding the Red Tape Initiative?, Unearthed, 14 July 2017
  8. George Monbiot, The Grenfell inquiry will be a stitch-up. Here’s why, Guardian, 5 July 2017
  9. May's ex-press aide joins Hanbury Strategy as agency bags Brexit briefs, PR Week, 14 June 2017
  10. Nick Tyrone, Linkedin Profile, accessed June 2017
  11. Rolling Back Red Tape in the UK, SPB website, 27 April 2017