By Larisa Brown and Claire Ellicott
Daily Mail – 9 May 2019
Theresa May's plan to allow Chinese firm Huawei to help build Britain's 5G network could put the UK's security relationship with America at risk, the US Secretary of State said last night. In a dramatic escalation of the rhetoric over the issue, Mike Pompeo said “insufficient security” would hinder America's ability to share certain information with its closest ally. Delivering a stinging criticism of the PM, he also invoked Margaret Thatcher, saying the Iron Lady would have taken a tougher stance on China.
“Ask yourself: Would the Iron Lady be silent when China violates the sovereignty of nations through corruption or coercion?”
Mr Pompeo said at the Centre for Policy Studies, a conservative British think-tank in London.
“Insufficient security will impede the United States' ability to share certain information within trusted networks. This is just what China wants - to divide Western alliances through bits and bytes, not bullets and bombs.”
Earlier, in a press conference with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Mr Pompeo said:
“I have great confidence that the UK will never take an action that will break the special relationship. With respect to 5G, we continue to have technical discussions. We are making our views very well known.”
The thinly veiled threat came as a US cyber-security chief warned that Washington would have to reassess how it shared information with Britain if it allowed Huawei's technology into its network. Diplomat Robert Strayer said:
“We have very closely integrated information-sharing relationships with the UK and a range of other countries. In all those relationships, we rely on trust and protection of information. We would, if a country had Huawei in its 5G network, have to reassess how we are sharing information to ensure we are protecting the information.”
The US has repeatedly told allies not to use Huawei's technology to build new 5G networks because of fears it could be a vehicle for Chinese spying – an accusation the company has denied. Mrs May, however, is expected to give the go-ahead to the firm having a restricted role in Britain's 5G networks, according to a leak from top-secret meetings. The leak was blamed on the then Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who was sacked last week despite his denials.
In the Commons yesterday Tory MP Julian Lewis, chairman of the Defence Select Committee, described the Huawei deal as
“naive to the point of negligence”.
In an apparent reference to Mr Williamson, he said:
“Shouldn't we be grateful to all those ministers, present and former, who have opposed this reckless recommendation?”
Mrs May defended the move, saying:
“The UK is not considering any options that would put our national security communications at risk, either within the UK or with our closest allies.”
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright told MPs that the Government had still not made a final decision on the inclusion of Huawei in the UK's 5G networks.