Rebel politicians in Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party are piling pressure on the prime minister to reverse his decision to allow Huawei to help build the UK’s next-generation wireless networks.
Johnson’s government announced last month it would allow the Chinese company to supply equipment for so-called non-core parts of the country’s 5G networks, pleasing the country’s telecommunications companies but angering the US, which argues that Huawei represents a security risk. The move also provoked the first serious rebellion faced by Johnson since his December election victory, with many Tories saying the company is an arm of the Chinese state and can’t be trusted with critical UK infrastructure.
Now former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has secured a 90-minute debate in parliament on 4 March on the “security implications of including Huawei in 5G”. And although it will take place in Westminster Hall, a side chamber used for discussing issues away from the main business of the day and therefore won’t be binding on government, it will still reveal — again — the level of anger on Johnson’s own side.
On 5 February, Johnson was challenged in the house of commons about his Huawei decision by two other senior Tories, David Davis and Damian Green, who both argued the UK should be developing alternative sources of 5G technology. — Reported by Robert Hutton, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP