PM faces rebellion over Huawei 5G decision

Prime minister Boris Johnson will face down rebels in his own party today over Huawei’s role in the UK’s 5G network.

A group of Conservative rebels are planning to back an amendment which would put an end to the Chinese technology company’s involvement in 5G infrastructure in 2023.

In January, the government announced that it would allow Huawei to supply infrastructure to ‘non-core’ parts of the 5G network, with a limit on its reach of 35 per cent.

The decision prompted consternation, notably from the US government, which has appealed to the UK to reverse the decision amid fears over the technology providing a back door for Chinese state surveillance activities.

Huawei has repeatedly denied any government involvement in its operations.

Those set to rebel today, led by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and former cabinet ministers David Davis and Damian Green, are urging the government to rethink the decision and allow other ‘non-high risk’ technology providers to join the 5G rollout.

The amendment has been added to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill due to go before the House of Commons today.

The rebels are asking for high risk vendors - those classified by the National Centre for Cyber Security as posing a potential threat to national security - to be banned from involvement in the network from 31 December 2021.

The MPs expected to rebel - which are thought to number between 30 and 50 - are unlikely to inflict a defeat on the government, which has a working majority of 80, but the extent of the backlash is likely to put added pressure on the prime minister to consider the implications of Huawei’s role in the UK’ infrastructure mix.

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