Australia joins America in criticising Boris Johnson’s decision to let Huawei in

Senior Tory MPs stepped up pressure over Huawei today after Australian politicians joined Donald Trump in protesting Boris Johnson’s decision to let the Chinese firm help build the UK’s 5G network.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was reportedly “strongly criticised” in a private meeting with members of the Australian intelligence committee during an official visit.

The disclosure comes as a front page report in today’s Financial Times said that President Trump was “apoplectic” during a phone conversation with the British Prime Minister.

A separate source has told the Standard that President Trump was so angry during the call that he ended it by “slamming the phone down”.

No 10 sources said the FT report was “overblown” and pointed to the measured response from the US after the decision was announced as evidence of good relations.

Australia and America are both members of the Five Eyes information-sharing partnership which is a pillar of British security and intelligence.

Mr Raab, who is on a tour of allies and trade partners, spent 25 minutes with members of the intelligence committee in Canberra where, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, deputy chair Anthony Byrne told him: “How would you feel if the Russians laid down infrastructure in your own networks? That’s how we feel about Huawei.”

The paper said Mr Byrne “became frustrated” when Mr Raab insisted the decision to approve Huawei was “difficult” but “technical” and “not political”.

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said senior MPs would be raising the issue “repeatedly” over coming months to press Mr Johnson to change policy and set a target of removing Huawei from the 5G infrastructure. 

“Every indication I am getting from our allies is of restrained anger about the British Government’s decision,” he said.

Huawei strongly denies claims by critics that Chinese laws mean it could be ordered by Beijing to use its equipment for eavesdropping, espionage or even disruption.

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on a visit to London that American intelligence could not be used on networks not seen as secure.

David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary, said Mr Johnson could solve the situation by announcing clear targets to remove Huawei equipment over time. Under Government plans, Huawei will be capped at a 35 per cent share of 5G services, with an aim to reduce that to a quarter when new suppliers come into the market.


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