Boris Johnson’s decision to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei a role in Britain’s 5G network could threaten a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and America, according to US vice president Mike Pence.
His comments came after it was reported that US President Donald Trump blasted Mr Johnson with “apoplectic” rage during a phone call regarding the 5G move.
Speaking to the US broadcaster CNBC, Mr Pence said: “We are profoundly disappointed because look, when I went at the president’s direction in September I met with Prime Minister Johnson and I told him the moment the UK is out of Brexit we were willing to begin to negotiate a free trade arrangement with the UK.
“But we just don’t believe that utilising the assets, the technology of Huawei is consistent with the security or privacy interests of the UK, of the United States and it remains a real issue between our two countries.”
The vice president added: “We’re anxious to build our economic ties, but we have made it clear to Prime Minister Johnson and to officials in the UK, that as we expand opportunities to build out 5G across this country… we want to see our companies meet the needs in the United States and UK and among all our allies without the compromise of privacy and the compromise of security that necessarily comes with Huawei and control by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Asked whether the decision was a possible deal-breaker, he replied: “We’ll see.”
In response, a UK government spokesperson said: “Both the UK and US governments have been clear about our commitment to work together to agree a comprehensive free trade agreement now the UK has left the EU, and as the vice president has said – our teams have begun that process.”
Mr Johnson defied repeated lobbying from the US to rule in January that the Chinese firm could play a limited role in the infrastructure.
The US had warned the move would jeopardise intelligence sharing as it raised concerns over the telecommunications company’s links to the Chinese state.
The move has been a particularly thorny one for Mr Johnson, with his Brexit plans relying heavily on striking an ambitious free trade deal with the US.
Huawei is only one of a series of issues where the two nations are at odds.
Washington has threatened to retaliate with tariffs on the British car industry, if the government goes ahead with a planned tax on tech companies such as Google and Facebook.
The UK is also pressing for the extradition of the wife of a US intelligence official charged with causing the death of 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn.
Nevertheless, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the “special relationship” between the UK and the US is in a “fantastic place” as he visited London.
Boris Johnson’s decision to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei a role in Britain’s 5G network could threaten a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and America, according to US vice president Mike Pence. His comments came after it was reported that US President Donald Trump blasted Mr Johnson with “apoplectic” rage during a phone call regarding the 5G move.