Britain hopes to make a decision on Huawei’s role in 5G by autumn

Digital Minister Nicky Morgan says Britain should finally make a decision on whether to allow Huawei in 5G networks by autumn.

“We will make the right decision for the UK. I would hope we could do something by the autumn,” Morgan told BBC radio. “We’ve got to make sure that this is going to be a decision for the long term, making sure that we keep all our networks secure.”

The timing of Morgan’s comment is notable so close to the end of the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France. Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Huawei-critic President Trump for the first time since coming into No. 10.

Some have speculated that any post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and US would require Britain not to allow Huawei in national 5G networks.

Speaking to Reuters last month, Johnson said:

“It is very important to recognise that there can be significant benefits to investment from overseas in this country and Chinese companies are welcome as much as any other companies, but you would not expect the UK to do anything to compromise its vital national security infrastructure and you would not expect me as prime minister to do anything to compromise the ability of our fantastic intelligence services to share information as they do particularly with our five eyes partners, so that is the principle that will guide us.”

The US has expressed concerns its intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK may be reduced if Huawei equipment is used in Britain’s 5G networks. The US believes Huawei is controlled by Beijing and would be forced to comply with surveillance requests, an allegation which Huawei strongly denies.

While it’s understandable that concerns over security may hamper an intelligence relationship, there’s little practical reason for it to affect future trade between the UK and US.

During his press conference at the G7, Johnson was asked whether President Trump was putting any pressure on him over the use of Huawei equipment in trade talks. Johnson’s response was a blunt “no”.

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