This is going well, barely more than a week into our post-Brexit utopia:
Senior Tories have called for Boris Johnson to U-turn on its decision to allow Huawei into Britain’s 5G network as Mike Pence warned that the move could put US-UK trade talks in jeopardy.
A letter signed by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith and four former cabinet ministers says there is cross-party concern over the issue, and calls for more ministers to come forward.
It comes as Britain’s new ambassador to Washington, Dame Karen Pierce, was plunged into deep water on day one of her job over the issue.
Former ministers Owen Paterson, former Brexit minister David Davis and former Secretary of State Damian Green all put their names to the letter that states some MPs were ‘working to find a better solution’ to the 5G issue.
They also call for ‘high-risk’ vendors, which Huawei was designated by the UK, to be ruled out immediately or phased out over time.
Sir Iain told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: 'There is real concern across the floor of the House. I think there is a lot of disquiet over this.
’The truth is if they are not a trusted vendor, if, as the Foreign Secretary said at the despatch box, that China is considered to be an aggressor in these matters, they are constantly attacking our systems alongside Russia - they claim that Russia is an aggressor, but they won’t have anything to do with Russian technology - then surely the same principle must apply to China.
’And, I think, therefore, we need to get the Government to look to get the involvement of Huawei, not to 35 per cent, but to zero. We are turning out to be the mugs in this game.'
The Government has said Huawei would be limited to involvement in 35% of the network and kept away from sensitive areas.
Donald Trump is reported to have become ‘apoplectic’ with Mr Johnson last week when the Prime Minister called to say the UK was defying US advice to ban Huawei altogether.
Mr Pence yesterday suggested the White House remained furious.
Asked whether the UK’s decision on Huawei could be a deal-breaker for the trade talks, Mr Pence responded: ‘We’ll see.’
He told US broadcaster CNBC yesterday: 'The United States is very disappointed that the United Kingdom has decided to go forward with Huawei.
’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 was out of Brexit we were willing to begin to negotiate a free trade arrangement with the UK.'
He also made clear that the White House was still trying to ‘figure out’ what Huawei’s inclusion would mean, but said the US does not believe ‘utilising the assets and technology of Huawei is consistent with the security or privacy interests of the UK, of the United States’.