US warns British sovereignty at risk if Huawei helps build 5G network

By Harriet Line, PA Deputy Political Editor

Britain’s sovereignty is at risk if the country allows Chinese tech giant Huawei to help build its 5G infrastructure, the US Secretary of State has warned.

Mike Pompeo described the decision facing the National Security Council as “momentous” in a last ditch plea to ministers who are expected to make the call on Tuesday.

The US administration has previously warned allies not to allow Huawei to form part of their 5G networks, claiming it would be a security risk, something the company vehemently denies.

But Mr Pompeo wrote on Twitter on Sunday night: “The UK has a momentous decision ahead on 5G.

“British MP Tom Tugendhat gets it right: ‘The truth is that only nations able to protect their data will be sovereign’.

He retweeted a comment by Mr Tugendhat, the chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in the last parliament, in which the MP said: “Sovereignty means control of data as much as land.

“We need to decide what we’re willing to invest in and who were willing to share our tech with.

“The real costs will come later if we get this wrong and allow Huawei to run 5G.”

Mr Pompeo is due to meet Boris Johnson and the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on a visit to London this week.

Home Secretary Priti Patel dismissed reports on Sunday that she is “on the warpath” following claims Mr Johnson has been “bounced” by officials into letting Huawei build non-core parts of the 5G network.

She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday the report in the Sunday Times was “not accurate”, adding: “My role is very much to protect the national security of our country and that also includes intelligence services and communications as well.

“We are having discussions, and rightly so, and those discussions remain at the National Security Council level and within-Cabinet level.

“And of course we will have those discussions. We’ll have them privately and I’m not going to comment on speculation in newspapers.”

She said the UK’s co-operation with the Five Eyes network – an alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – would “absolutely continue”.

On Friday the Prime Minister discussed the security of telecommunications networks in a phone call with Donald Trump, according to the White House.

“The two leaders discussed important regional and bilateral issues, including working together to ensure the security of our telecommunications networks,” a White House statement said.

Last year, the US imposed trade restrictions on Huawei over concerns about the company’s security and ties to the Chinese government.

Allegations that their telecommunications equipment could be used to spy on people has been repeatedly denied by the tech giant.