Boris Johnson has hit back at American pressure on the UK to block Chinese firm Huawei from its 5G phone network plans, insisting the public “deserve” the best technology in the world.
In a rare public slap down for the White House, the prime minister told the BBC’s Breakfast programme that those who wanted to bar the Beijing-based telecoms giant had to show what possible alternative could work instead.
Johnson’s government is due in coming weeks to decide on whether to go ahead with allowing Huawei to help build “non-core” infrastructure, such as masts and antennae, as part of the next-generation mobile phone network.
British intelligence, not least MI5 and GCHQ’s specialist cyber arm, has repeatedly insisted that the UK can manage any possible security risk posed by the Chinese company, which is part of the communist state.
But Donald Trump has urged other countries into barring Huawei from their systems, and on Monday the US ramped up the pressure when its officials told British counterparts in London that it would be “nothing short of madness” to grant the firm access.
Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger presented a new dossier claiming to highlight fresh evidence of Huawei’s security risks, just hours after MI5 chief Sir Andrew Parker said he had “no reason to think” work with the company would jeopardise intelligence-sharing with the US.
Asked about the fresh US demands, a clearly exasperated Johnson told BBC Breakfast: “I say to all those [people], the British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology. We want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody.
“Now if people oppose one brand or another then they have to tell us what’s the alternative, right?” Read more