Huawei decision will be based on ‘hard-headed’ risk assessment, says No 10

A decision on whether to allow Huawei access to the UK’s 5G network will be based on a ‘hard-headed’ risk assessment, Downing Street has said.

President Donald Trump is expected to press Prime Minister Theresa May to ban the Chinese telecoms giant from the next generation communications network as the pair hold talks in Downing Street on Tuesday.

President Trump state visit to UK – Day Two
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Downing Street (Yui Mok/PA)

Mr Trump’s administration is urging allies not to use Huawei’s 5G technology over fears that it could allow China to spy on sensitive data.

Earlier this week Mr Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “We’ve been clear: our ask is that our allies and our partners and our friends don’t do anything that will endanger our shared security interests or restrict our ability to share sensitive information.”

Confirming Huawei will be discussed, a Downing Street spokeswoman said the issue was still under review but the UK would make a  “hard-headed, technically-informed” assessment of the risk.

She said: “The PM will be setting out the UK position, we’re obviously reviewing the right policy approach at the moment.

“The PM and others have been clear that any decision we take there will be supported by hard-headed technically-informed assessment of the risk.

“We’re reviewing the right policy approach and when an announcement is ready we will update parliament.”

When asked if the decision would need to wait for a new prime minister to be in place, the spokeswoman said: “I don’t think we have set the timing out for this.

“The review is ongoing in terms of the policy approach”.

Security Minister Ben Wallace implied a softer approach would take into account the “British sense of fair play”.

Security Minister Ben Wallace
Security Minister Ben Wallace (PA/John Stillwell)

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Alongside the technical questions is obviously the question of behaviour of a number of states.

“We’re British – we believe in fair play – and I think if we want to allow people access to our markets we have to say there are rules … Not using the espionage to steal our intellectual property.

“How do we maintain a level playing field and fair play that allows foreign investment, foreign access to our markets, and vice versa, but people don’t exploit that goodwill to steal and cheat?”

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