Former prime minister Theresa May could be seen rolling her eyes as a fellow MP criticised her decision to allow Huawei a role within the UK’s 5G network.
Julian Lewis, the MP for New Forest East in Hampshire, was speaking in the House of Commons shortly after Boris Johnson gave the green light for the Chinese tech giant to be involved in the network’s development.
May could be seen shaking her head and pulling a strained face behind the veteran Tory as he tore into her administration for defending the controversial firm’s involvement in the scheme.
“Does the government accept something I had difficulty getting its predecessor to accept, that Huawei should not be regarded as a private company because it is intimately linked with the Chinese communist state and its deeply hostile intelligence agencies?” Mr Lewis said.
“And if it does accept that as it should, is it confident that the safeguards that will be put in place will be sufficient to guard us against a deeply hostile intelligence agency?”
Earlier on Tuesday, the National Security Council, in a meeting chaired by the prime minister in Downing Street which lasted for less than 90 minutes, decided that “high-risk vendors” should be permitted to play a peripheral role in the network.
The move comes despite US president Donald Trump lobbying against the UK allowing Huawei access as the US engages in a global struggle for influence with China.
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The US administration warned that British sovereignty would be put at risk by the move, and has issued threats over an impact on intelligence sharing due to Huawei’s close ties to the Beijing government.
But foreign secretary Dominic Raab told MPs there would be no impact on the Five Eyes alliance – the partnership between the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“I want to be absolutely clear that nothing in this review affects this country’s ability to share highly sensitive intelligence data over highly secure networks both within the UK and with our partners including the Five Eyes,” he said.
“GCHQ have categorically confirmed that how we construct our 5G and full fibre public telecoms network has nothing to do with how we share classified data.”