Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not risk Britain’s security when upgrading the country’s 5G communications network – but said critics of Chinese technology firm Huawei must come up with an “alternative” provider.
In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said he did not want to “prejudice” the country’s ability to share intelligence with allies in the so-called Five Eyes arrangement – a collaboration between the UK, Australia, US, Canada and New Zealand – as a result of the improvements he had promised voters in his election manifesto.
A decision on which 5G vendor to use is due to be made by the Government this month.
Senior US officials presented the British Government with information on Monday to persuade it not to allow the tech giants to get a lucrative foothold in the UK market.
Asked about the reports in an interview with BBC Breakfast, Johnson said:
“The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology.
“I have talked about infrastructure and technology. We want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody.
“Now, if people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us which is the alternative.
“On the other hand, let’s be clear, I don’t, as the UK Prime Minister, want to put in any infrastructure that is going to prejudice our national security or our ability to co-operate with Five Eyes intelligence.”
Victor Zhang, vice president of Huawei, said the words of Sir Andrew Park, head of the MI5, should assure anxious MPs.
“We are confident that the UK Government will make a decision based upon evidence, as opposed to unsubstantiated allegations,” he said.
“Two UK parliamentary committees concluded there is no technical reason to ban us from supplying 5G equipment, and this week the head of MI5 said there is ‘no reason to think’ the UK’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the US would be harmed if Britain continued to use Huawei technology.”