A visit to Britain by Australian MPs has been cancelled after a row over leaked messages from an Australian lawmaker who slammed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's move to allow Huawei into the UK’s 5G network, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying that members of the Australian parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee planned to meet their counterparts from the UK House of Commons intelligence panel, Britain's security agencies and other national security figures in early April.
The visit, however, was “abruptly” cancelled after British High Commissioner Victoria Treadell’s recent letter to two Australian MPs, according to the ABC news outlet. In the letter, Treadell reportedly demanded an explanation about the leaked conversations between UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and representatives of Australia’s parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee earlier in February.
During the talks, the Australian lawmakers, including Labour MP Anthony Byrne, ostensibly berated the UK for greenlighting Huawei's participation in developing Britain’s 5G technology.
Australian authorities have not commented on the matter yet, with the country’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, for his part, rejecting reports of a Canberra-London spat, pointing to a strong bilateral economic and strategic partnership.
“It's a partnership that will be solidified further with a free trade agreement that we are both working on”, Frydenberg underscored.
The statement came after several sources told The Financial Times about an "apoplectic" phone conversation between US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month.
POTUS reportedly ended the “very difficult” call by "slamming the phone down”, after Johnson defied Trump’s warnings and authorised Huawei to take part in developing the UK's 5G network.
Announcing the move in late January, the UK government pointed out that Huawei will be excluded from all safety-related networks and sensitive geographic locations, such as nuclear sites and military bases. In addition, the access of Huawei and other "high risk vendors" to non-sensitive parts of the network will be capped at 35 percent.
The British government made the announcement as Washington repeatedly warned London against allowing Huawei into its 5G network, claiming that Beijing could use Huawei’s equipment for spying; both the Chinese tech giant and the country’s government vehemently deny the accusations.
The US refusal to cooperate with Huawei in the construction of its 5G networks was earlier supported by Australia, Japan and New Zealand, while Germany and France have both rejected Washington's drive to blacklist the tech giant.