Mike Pompeo says Margaret Thatcher would take tougher line on Huawei in swipe at Theresa May

Posted On: 
9th May 2019

Margaret Thatcher would not have allowed Huawei to have a role in the development of the UK's 5G network, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed.

Mike Pompeo and Theresa May met at Downing Street yesterday
PA Images

In a clear swipe at Theresa May, he said the "Iron lady" would have been wary about giving China influence over Britain's critical infrastructure.

The Prime Minister is under fire, including from her own Cabinet, over her plans to allow Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei to deliver “non-core” infrastructure for the mobile internet upgrade.

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America is calling on its international allies to follow its lead in banning the company from government networks.

Speaking at a Margaret Thatcher lecture after holding talks with Mrs May in Downing Street, Mr Pompeo warned that China hoped to “divide western alliances through bits and bytes, not bullets and bombs”.

Using the nickname of the former Tory leader, he said: “Ask yourself this: would the ‘Iron Lady’... allow China to control the internet of the future?

“I know it’s a sensitive topic but we have to talk about sensitive things as friends.”

He added: “As a matter of Chinese law, the Chinese government can rightfully demand access to data flowing through Huawei and ZTE systems.

“Why would anyone grant such power to a regime that has already grossly violated cyberspace?

“What can Her Majesty’s Government do to make sure sensitive technologies don’t become open doors for Beijing’s spymasters?”

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted at an earlier press conference that the Government had not “made our final decisions” on the Huawei issue.

He added: “We are considering the evidence very carefully, but we would never take a decision that compromised our ability to share intelligence with our five eyes colleagues.”

Mr Pompeo also launched a full-blown attack on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying it was "disgusting" to see political figures supporting disputed Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.