Boris Johnson’s controversial decision to hire Huawei continues to sour relations with the White House, which is preparing to hand the government a ‘b****cking’ during an upcoming diplomatic mission to Downing Street.
Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney will lead the delegation to Britain to convey the President’s concerns directly with the Prime Minister and urge him to reconsider.
The US has repeatedly warned that it would withhold intelligence-sharing from any ally which allowed the Chinese firm access to its communications infrastructure.
But despite Washington attempts to strongarm the UK, Mr Johnson plowed ahead with plans to let Huawei build the 5G network.
Boris Johnson (pictured at Cabinet yesterday) has come under renewed pressure to reverse his decision to green light Huawei’s involvement in the HS2 project
Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney (pair pictured at White House) will lead the delegation to Britain to convey the President’s concerns directly with the Prime Minister and urge him to reconsider
Mr Mulvaney’s team is expected to let rip at British officials in a full-frontal ‘b****cking’, according to a Daily Telegraph source.
‘One thing is on the agenda, and it’s not a trade deal – it is Huawei,’ the source said.
The furious transatlantic row could scupper Mr Johnson’s hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal, which would have been crucial leverage in also brokering an agreement with the EU.
The frayed relations between Mr Johnson and Mr Trump forced the PM to delay a planned visit to Washington which had been expected to take place over the spring.
A Number 10 spokesman insisted on Friday that the Prime Minister is still looking forward to travelling to the US but is ‘currently focused on driving through the Government’s ambitious domestic agenda’.
American concerns about China were underlined by US Defence Secretary Mark Esper who accused Beijing of stealing Western know-how while using its power to intimidate smaller neighbours.
‘The Communist Party and its associated organs, including the People’s Liberation Army, are increasingly operating in theatres outside its borders, including Europe, and seeking advantage by any means, and at any cost,’ he said in speech to an international security conference in Munich.
The Australian intelligence and security committee had abruptly called off its visit next month when members had been expected meet Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
Mr Johnson has faced criticism for downgrading Britain’s presence at the event, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and MI6 Chief Alex Younger pulling out and newly-appointed Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly attending instead.
Meanwhile, the the Australian intelligence and security committee had abruptly called off its visit next month when members had been expected meet Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab as well as senior intelligence and security figures.
The Sydney Morning Herald said the cancellation followed a letter from a senior Australian civil servant to committee chairman Andrew Hastie, rebuking him over a leak of details of a meeting with Mr Raab when MPs on the committee confronted him over the Huawei decision.
Australia – which, like the US, is part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance – has banned the Chinese firm from its 5G network because of the potential national security implications.
The chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, said the British Government should take such concerns seriously, saying the country faces some ‘really serious strategic choices’ when it comes to China.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Personally, I would like to stand with countries that share the rule of law, human rights and the values I think are so important.
The frayed relations between Mr Johnson and Mr Trump forced the PM to delay a planned visit to Washington which had been expected to take place over the spring
‘That means standing with Australia and Canada. It also means standing with countries like France who have also rejected Huawei.
‘The decisions we make today will affect how our children are governed in years to come.’
Tory MP Bob Seely, who was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the last parliament, said the role of Huawei should form part of the Government’s forthcoming foreign policy and defence review.
‘Having hi-tech from high-risk vendors in our critical national infrastructure is wrong on many levels – national security, personal data, Chinese leverage over the UK Government,’ he said.
‘The Aussies gave a very blunt opinion to the UK. The UK Government should be listening to the message our allies are giving, not moaning that they are giving it.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘We are clear-eyed about the challenge posed by Huawei, which is why we are banning them from sensitive and critical parts of the network and setting a strict 35 per cent cap on market share.
‘Our world-leading cyber security experts are satisfied that with our approach, and tough regulatory regime, any risk can be safely managed.’