Donald Trump ‘apoplectic’ with Boris Johnson over Huawei ‘betrayal’, report claims

Written by Alain Tolhurst on 24 February 2020 in News
News

US president and UK prime minister clash over 5G decision during ‘lively’ phone call

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump meet at the UN General Assembly in September 2019    Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

Donald Trump is said to be furious with Boris Johnson over the decision to allow Huawei to build part of the UK’s 5G network, calling it a “betrayal”.

The Mail on Sunday reports that the US president is understood to have used the term after a heated phone call with the Johnson to try and dissuade him from using the Chinese firm.

Number 10 sources denied Mr Trump said it directly to Johnson as they spoke on the phone, but acknowledge there was a “lively” discussion between the pair, with the American “apoplectic” according to one version.

This week the White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was in Downing Street to meet senior officials and warn Huawei’s involvement in the high-speed internet system would have a “direct and dramatic impact” on his country’s willingness to share information with the UK amid security concerns.


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He said: “Our governments share a tremendous amount of security information. We are very much concerned that integrity of that information is hard-wired into your computer systems, and if you folks go forward with the decision to include Huawei, it will have a direct and dramatic impact on our ability to share information with you.”

And the decision to allow Huawei to build parts of the UK’s 5G network have been blasted by former Cabinet minister David Davis as “the worst intelligence decision since MI6’s recruitment of Kim Philby”.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday the ex-Brexit secretary likened the decision to the hiring of the Soviet Union double agent and the rest of the notorious “Cambridge Five” spy ring.

He said: “In fact, given our future dependence on so-called ‘fifth generation’ or 5G technology, this failure is worse than Philby and his fellow spies, Burgess, Maclean, Cairncross and Blunt, all rolled into one.”

Davis added: “We are at a critical juncture. If we carry on with Huawei, we risk fracturing the vital Five Eyes intelligence alliance of Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – a sort of Nato for the digital age. And that would be nothing short of a huge victory for our enemies. It is a sad fact that we have let ourselves become dependent on foreign countries for significant parts of our country’s technology – and we must react accordingly.”

 

About the author

Alain Tolhurst is chief reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared. He tweets as @Alain_Tolhurst.

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