US president Donald Trump was quick to claim credit for the move, something which is diplomatically embarrassing for the UK government. The UK left the EU on the principle that it would never have to obey “unelected” officials from Brussels, and now it seems it is having to obey one of the most unpopular presidents in US history, who they can’t even vote for.
“We convinced many countries, many countries, I did this myself for the most part, not to use Huawei, because we think it is an unsafe security risk, it’s a big security risk”, Trump said, before referring to the UK ban.
In January Britain said that Huawei equipment could be used in its new 5G network on a limited basis. But since then Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced growing political pressure domestically to take a harder line against Beijing, and in May the United States imposed new restrictions to disrupt Huawei's access to important components.
It is expected that Johnson’s embarrassing u-turn on Huawei might be spun as something to do with Hong Kong, when Beijing last month adopted a sweeping new law to tighten its grip. But it seems that the decision followed a meeting with Robert O'Brien, President Trump's national security adviser, in Paris for meetings about China with counterparts from Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
Trump has been claiming, without any evidence or hardware examples that Huawei’s close ties to the Chinese government mean Beijing could use the equipment for espionage or to disrupt telecommunications -- a point the company strongly disputes.
Arguing that Huawei created too much risk for such a critical, multibillion-dollar project, the government said Tuesday that it would bar the purchase of new Huawei equipment for 5G networks after December, and that existing gear already installed would need to be removed from the networks by 2027.
Oliver Dowden, the government minister in charge of telecommunications, told the House of Commons that this has not been an easy decision. “But it is the right one for the U.K.'s telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run.”