Up to 30 Conservative MPs, led by former leader Iain Duncan Smith, are planning to rebel against Boris Johnson over Huawei and vote against the government in Parliament on Tuesday, 10 March, media report.
They will vote for an amendment to the Telecommunications Infrastucture Bill which would ban firms classified as "high-risk vendors" by the National Cyber Security Centre from working on the project by 31 December 2022.
To our friends & allies in the UK:— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 4, 2020
Chinese companies are compelled to support & cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party
With security, privacy, & economic threats Huawei poses—we urge the UK to revisit its decision to allow Huawei to supply some of the UK’s 5G infrastructure pic.twitter.com/9BLG0mJ3oJ
Huawei are considered “high-risk” by the National Cyber Security Centre because they are Chinese and it is alleged they could be influenced by the government in Beijing to hand over sensitive information about Britain’s 5G network.
Tory MP Bob Seely said Parliament should be debating Huawei's role in the UK's mobile telecoms infrastructure.
He said: "The important thing is that, with the vibe that we're getting from colleagues, many many more are very concerned about it.”
🚨 Major rebellion looming for govt 🚨— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) March 10, 2020
A pretty broad coalition of Conservative MPs have signed the amendment blocking Huawei’s role in UK’s 5G network. Rebels say the company poses a security risk and its involvement should end by 2023. Could be a difficult day for No 10. pic.twitter.com/qVYmm0W3ef
Boris Johnson’s government has a majority of 80, so there is little chance the amendment would be passed but it would be an embarrassment for the Prime Minister, who has already been criticised by the White House for allowing Huawei to be involved.
In December US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien warned the UK government any decision to allow Huawei to participate in the country’s 5G technology rollout would risk providing Beijing with access to the personal information of British citizens, as well as permit the Chinese Communist Party to “steal” its national intelligence secrets.
Speaking for Labour in the debate on Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G network. This is a key question for the UK’s security and control over our technological sovereignty #Huawei https://t.co/VNHjmsAVqa— chi onwurah (@ChiOnwurah) March 4, 2020
In May 2019 the then Prime Minister Theresa May sacked her Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson after he was accused of leaking confidential discussions about Huawei's involvement, which he opposed on security grounds.
Williamson was brought back into the Cabinet by Boris Johnson and is the current Education Secretary but the Prime Minister has pressed on with plans for Huawei to help build the 5G network.
The reports surrounding Huawei and the use of forced labour from Uighur Muslims are concerning. People want better connectivity, but they don't want it built on the back of slave labour. The Government must examine this closely before it goes any further into the 5G process. pic.twitter.com/4mNs40g6Fk— Alistair Carmichael (@amcarmichaelMP) March 4, 2020
The UK government has said Huawei will be excluded from the most sensitive parts of the 5G network and it expects its market share to decline as “new players emerge”.
The row in the Conservative Party comes as the US seeks to press Canada not to allow Huawei to be involved in its 5G network.
President Donald Trump last year warned Canada it could lose access to top secret intelligence if it did not block Huawei.
On Monday, 9 March, Trump's special representative for international telecoms policy, Robert Blair, stressed to Ottawa the "importance of a secure and reliable next-generation telecommunications infrastructure."
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair - no relation - MPs in the Ottawa Parliament on Monday "there is a very robust and important discussion going on between ourselves and our allies" about Huawei.