US national security advisor John Bolton has said during a UK visit that new PM Johnson’s government will look at the Huawei issue “from square one”.
Bolton is the most senior US government official to visit PM Johnson since he took office last month. The US has strongly warned its allies, especially those such as the UK in the ‘five-eyes’ intelligence relationship, against allowing the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks.
“They [UK officials] said, in particular, they are looking really from square one on the Huawei issue. They were very concerned about not having any compromise in security of telecommunications in the 5G space,” Mr Bolton told reporters.
“What they said was ‘we would like to review this and be very sure about our decision and we too are concerned about the security of our 5G telecommunications network’.”
While Theresa May’s administration was minded to allow Huawei in ‘non-core’ parts of 5G networks, Bolton’s comments suggest Johnson may be considering an outright ban.
A UK government spokesperson said it had “been undertaking a thorough, evidence-based and hard-headed review of the 5G supply chain to ensure the secure and resilient rollout of 5G. We’ve been clear that the security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance.”
Former PM May’s decision was seen by many as a snub to Trump’s administration. Johnson has indicated more openness to the US ahead of an expected post-Brexit trade deal between each country’s biggest investor.
The US was among the first countries visited by newly-appointed foreign secretary Dominic Raab, which led to the following press conference reacknowledging the importance each country’s representatives put in the so-called ‘special relationship’:
Mr Bolton also said British officials appreciate the US’ views on other world issues such as Iran. The UK is currently the only country in Europe to sign up to a US-led initiative to protect ships in the Hormuz Strait following illegal seizures of vessels by Iran.
Johnson’s government appears to be aligning with US policy ahead of Brexit as the UK continues to face an unwillingness from the EU to renegotiate a deal which has failed multiple times to pass in parliament.
Bolton said the main purpose of his trip was to express President Trump’s “desire to see a successful” UK exit from the EU, and “his hope that we can have a fully comprehensive bilateral trade agreement” with Britain “as soon as possible”.
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