Security officials have launched a review of Huawei's involvement in Britain's 5G network in the wake of US sanctions.
Following the recent announcement that America would place additional laws on the telecommunications giant, the UK Government confirmed that the National Cyber Security Centre was “looking carefully at any impact they could have to the UK’s networks.”
It comes after this newspaper revealed that Boris Johnson intended to reduce Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Prime Minister has instructed officials to draw up plans that would reduce China’s involvement in the UK’s infrastructure to zero by 2023.
In Prime Minister’s Questions last week Mr Johnson hinted that greater measures would be taken to tackle hostile countries like Russia and China to protect the UK's "technological base".
He said it was “absolutely right to be concerned about the buying up of UK technology by countries that may have ulterior motives" and added that the Government was "bringing forward measures to make sure we protect our technological base"
However Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, cautioned that “this review has one purpose of how to get Huawei out of the system and not whether we should”.
“Huawei has to be taken out of our systems,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “We can no longer be dependent on an untrusted vendor in a country that has an appalling record of theft on intellectual property and human rights. We shouldn't be putting our most vital communications strategy in their hands.”
Meanwhile Bob Seely, the Tory MP for the Isle of Wight who is one of the 59 MPs in the Huawei interest group who have called on the Government to cut ties with Huawei, said “we are keen to work with the Government to find a new position but it has to be without Huawei in our communications network”.
“To have a high risk vendor in our communications system is a bizarre concept and a concerning thing in itself.
“China has become much more aggressive and assertive. I think there has been a reluctance to accept what is going on but the price of not moving and having the wrong policy would be worse.”
Mr Seely added that he believed it was crucial for the UK to “work with our Five Eyes partners, reach out to new partners and build a more realistic policy with China, which keeps relationships good but also allows us to defend our values and interest”.
Dominic Grieve, a former cabinet minister, previously warned that “if there is any reason to suspect that our intelligence-sharing relationship with our Five Eyes partners will be damaged, then that should automatically determine our decision on the future of our 5G network”.
Mr Johnson is due to visit the US for the G7 summit next month in what will be his first trip abroad since the coronavirus crisis unfolded.
A spokesperson for the Government said:
“The security and resilience of our networks is of paramount importance.
“Following the US announcement of additional sanctions against Huawei, the NCSC is looking carefully at any impact they could have to the UK’s networks.”