‘This is toxic’ – Boris Johnson warned of Tory rebellion ‘greater than 81-seat majority’
BORIS JOHNSON has been warned he could face a Tory rebellion bigger than his 81-seat majority in Parliament unless he promptly acts against China.
Huawei removal ‘cannot be done quickly’ warns BT Chief
The warning comes from Former UK Ambassador to the US Christopher Meyer who claimed that unless he promptly reverses his decision to collaborate with China tech giant Huawei, Boris Johnson may face a toxic rebellion from his own party members. Speaking to Times Radio, Mr Meyer said: “First of all, on its merits, this need to be done and I’m surprised we got as far as we have working with Huawei over the years.
“Secondly, the politics are quite toxic for Boris Johnson and his Government.
“Firstly because of the pressure from close allies like the United States and Australia.
“And secondly because it looks like if he doesn’t do this there will be a rebellion in the Conservative Party which might be greater than the 81-seat majority that the Government has.”
The Prime Minister is chairing a meeting on Tuesday of the National Security Council (NSC) which is expected to end any involvement by the firm in building the 5G system.
The decision – following intense pressure from both the US administration of Donald Trump and backbench Tory MPs – marks a major U-turn by the Government.
Boris Johnson faces Tory rebellion greater than his majority in Parliament over Huawei
Huawei: Boris Johnson is expected to announce a ban on the tech giant
In January, ministers announced Huawei could play a limited role in the 5G network, despite warnings that its equipment could be used by China for espionage or to disrupt the UK’s critical national infrastructure.
However, it is expected that the Government will now announce that no new Huawei equipment can be installed in the network from as early as next year.
It is also expected to announce a so-called “rip out” date by which all the existing Huawei equipment must be removed.
Details will be set out by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden in a Commons statement following the NSC meeting.
Some Tory MPs have been pressing for a “rip out” deadline for Huawei to be set before the next general election – due in 2024 – amid fears of a lobbying campaign by the firm to reverse the decision.
BT chief executive Philip Jansen warned on Monday that removing Huawei kit from the 5G network could take five to seven years, while taking it out of the entire UK telecoms network could require a decade.
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Last week China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, urged the Government not to shut out Huawei warning there would be “consequences” if Britain tried to treat China as a “hostile country”.
But Tom Tugendhat, Tory chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, has called on the Government to take the opportunity to distance itself even further from Beijing.
In a column in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Tugendhat said Mr Xiaoming’s comments signalled it was time for the UK to kick its “addiction to Beijing tech”.
He wrote: “To keep power distributed and trade on the basis of law, not force, we need a new alliance. Going further than the World Trade Organisation and recognising the importance of India and Nigeria, would reinforce the interdependence of democracies against authoritarian regimes.
“We have the innovations and size that could create a market for companies that share our values. The majority won’t be British but they’ll share our values, and that will protect us all.”
Huawei: Countries in the world that have banned the Chinese tech giant
His sentiment was echoed by former Conservative leader William Hague, who wrote in the Telegraph: “What matters is that we should not be strategically dependent on Chinese technology for the future, and that will require building up the production of alternative companies.
“It is not essential to rip everything out immediately – we just have to be able to maintain our own critical infrastructure for the long term.”
Relations between the two countries were already under intense strain after Britain offered three million Hongkongers a path to settle in the UK following the imposition by Beijing of a new national security law on the former British colony.
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