The UK government is preparing to defy Donald Trump and strike a deal with Chinese telecoms company Huawei, despite the president’s repeated threats to cut off security ties with the country.
Trump has warned the UK that the intelligence-sharing arrangement between the two allies will be at risk if the deal for a role in Britain’s 5G network goes ahead, with US officials warning that “Donald Trump is watching closely.”
However, Johnson is preparing to allow the Huawei deal to go ahead despite the threats, amid a widespread belief in Europe that Trump’s warnings are a “bluff”.
EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan on Thursday told an event in London that the President’s threat was simply not credible.
“I don’t think that will happen at the end of the day,” he said.
“You can call their bluff on that one.”
Johnson is now preparing to agree to allow Huawei a “limited” role in the UK’s 5G network, with one UK official telling the Daily Mail that the UK security services simply do not believe Trump’s blanket ban on Huawei is justified.
“The security world does not endorse the need for a blanket ban on Huawei. They are not naive – they are well aware of the risks – but they believe they can be contained,” the official said.
Another source told the paper: “From a security point of view the risk is manageable.”
Johnson repeatedly promised to upgrade Britain’s sluggish communications network during his recent victorious election campaign and has publicly backed the possibility of a role for Huawei.
Asked on Tuesday whether he would allow the Huawei deal to go ahead, Johnson told the BBC that “the British public deserves access to the best possible technology.”
He added: “If people oppose one brand or another they have to tell us what’s the alternative?”
The UK threatens to withhold support for US-led wars
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson
The development came as Johnson’s administration responded to Trump’s threats by threatening that the UK would cut UK support for future US-led wars.
The UK Defence Secretary told the Sunday Times that Trump’s isolationist foreign policy stance meant that the UK would increasingly look to other international allies instead.
“Over the last year we’ve had the US pullout from Syria, the statement by Donald Trump on Iraq where he said NATO should take over and do more in the Middle East,” Wallace said.
“The assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a US coalition is really just not where we are going to be.”
Johnson’s administration has repeatedly criticised Trump’s aggressive stance towards Iran, with Johnson warning last week that the president’s threats to target Iranian cultural sites could be a war crime.