Furious Tory MP accuses Theresa May of ‘ignoring’ top intelligence advice over Huawei 5G risk
Theresa May has been warned that Britain risks “nesting a dragon” if ministers ignore top intelligence advice and allow Huawei to build parts of the country's new 5G network.
Senior Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said it was “extraordinary” that the Chinese telecoms giant is in line to operate “non-core” parts of the project, when other western governments have banned them over security fears.
A leak from the UK's National Security Council last week indicated ministers had decided to give the firm a limited role, with subsequent reports of a backlash from Cabinet ministers against the move.
PoliticsHome last week revealed that a Whitehall leak inquiry is currently underway to find out the source, with a raft of senior frontbenchers having since distanced themselves from it.
In a scathing intervention at Prime Ministers Questions, the Foreign Affairs Committee chair bluntly asked Mrs May if she felt Chinese commercial gain was worth “putting in danger a 70-year intelligence sharing relationship”.
“Apart from an extraordinary leak which I will not go into, the decision which has been discussed in many parts of the world at the moment is the possibility that we will be nesting a dragon in the critical national infrastructure of the UK by allowing Huawei to build the cyber network that will power 5G," he said.
“This decision is frankly extraordinary given the advice of the National Security Agency of the United States and the Australian signals directorate.
“Could the Prime Minister perhaps explain why she feels ignoring two of our closest intelligence allies and putting in danger a 70-year intelligence sharing relationship that has underpinned the security of the UK is worth it for Chinese commercial gain?”
The PM refused to deny the move was in the pipeline in her response but said decisions would be based on a “hard-headed, technically informed assessment of the risk”.
“We do discuss very closely with our allies' security issues,” she said.
“We have put in place a review of the 5G supply chain to ensure we have a secure and resilient rollout of 5G and the decisions of that review will be announced in due course.
“The priorities we have in relation to the future of telecommunications are stronger cyber security practices, greater resilience in telecoms networks and diversity in the market, and that drives our thinking.”
Speaking on Monday, the Foreign Secretary said: "We are right to have a degree of caution about the role of large Chinese companies because of the degree of control the Chinese state is able to exercise over them in the way that would not be possible if they were large Western companies...
"Obviously, as we come to our decision, we have to weigh those considerations very carefully."
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