Mike Pence hints US-UK trade deal at risk because of Boris Johnson’s Huawei decision
Boris Johnson’s decision to give Huawei a role in the UK’s 5G network could put a post-Brexit trade deal with the US at risk, according to Mike Pence.
The US vice-president said his country was “very disappointed” with the Government’s decision.
Mr Johnson confirmed last month that the Chinese telecoms giant would have a “non-core” role in the creation of Britain’s high-speed internet capability.
That was despite America warning that the move could put its security co-operation with the UK at risk.
Speaking to US broadcaster CNBC, Mr Pence said: “The United States is very disappointed that the United Kingdom has decided to go forward with Huawei.
“We are profoundly disappointed ... When I went at the president’s direction in September I met with Prime Minister Johnson and I told him the moment the UK was out of Brexit we were willing to begin to negotiate a free trade arrangement with the UK.”
Asked whether the decision could prove a “deal-breaker” in the upcoming trans-Atlantic trade talks, Donald Trump’s number two replied: “We’ll see.”
When President Trump spoke to Mr Johnson last week, he was reportedly ‘apoplectic’ about the UK’s acceptance of Huawei, which America claims has links to the Chinese Communist Party.
It comes as senior Conservatives have written to their party’s MPs highlighting the concerns they have with the decision to allow Huawei to play a role in the UK’s 5G network.
In a letter seen by the BBC, the group, which include four former ministers, argue there are viable alternatives to the Chinese firm. The MPs say they are “working to find a better solution in support of the Government’s broader objectives.”
Dubbed The Wolverines, according to The Telegraph, the group includes Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson, David Davis, Damian Green, Tobias Ellwood and Bob Seely.
They claim the Chinese telecoms provider has been allowed into the UK network by “stealth”.
"We are seeking to identify a means by which we ensure that only trusted vendors are allowed as primary contractors into our critical national infrastructure," they write.
"Trusted vendors would be companies from countries that have fair market competition, rule of law, respect human rights, data privacy and non-coercive government agencies."
The UK government has insisted that restrictions have been placed on Huawei, limiting them to a 35% share of supplying the network’s periphery, as well as banning them from military bases and nuclear sites.