UK.gov decision to use Chinese biz or not due in a week or two, maybe, perhaps… sort of

The head of Uk’s domestic spy agency, MI5, has declared that he has “no reason to think” that Britain’s impending decision to use Huawei in the core of 5G mobile networks will harm UK-US relations.

The Financial Times interviewed the top spy, publishing his comments this morning. While Sir Andrew Parker is said to have acknowledged that security fears should not “dominate and dictate decisions”, the newspaper pointed out that the National Security Council had few options because of the small number of 5G suppliers on the market.

“Perhaps the thing that needs more focus and more discussion is how do we get to a future where there’s a wider range of competition and a wider range of sovereign choices than defaulting to a yes or no about Chinese technology,” Sir Andrew told the Pink ‘Un.

All of Britain’s 5G networks have now been launched, albeit without the Chinese firm’s 5G equipment at their core. Instead Huawei base stations and other edge-of-network gear has been deployed around the nation.

It is increasingly clear that the decision to allow Huawei into British 5G mobile networks – albeit at the edge – has already been and gone, just not publicly announced. Indeed, one-time Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was sacked from his ministerial post for allegedly telling the world that very thing by secretly briefing the Daily Telegraph.

Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday‘s deputy political editor highlighted similar Whitehall rumours he reported last week:

The FT reckons that a raft of new-in-post Cabinet ministers are now looking at it all over again, even though officials have largely agreed that economic prosperity in the post-Brexit era must take priority over national security and potentially the closeness of Britain’s military and intelligence alliance with the US.

American government officials have spent the last couple of years screaming blue murder at any country thinking of adopting Huawei kit, with notably little success in Germany, a country increasingly looking away from its traditional Western alliances.

Various Parliamentary committees have opined about the Huayay-or-Huanay question over the past year alone. Back in July the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee said yes; four days later the Intelligence and Security Committee said no, while adding for good measure that the “extent of the delay is now causing serious damage to our international relationships.” Huawei itself has said it won’t go away even if turned down, while yet another Parliamentary talking shop heard from UK telcos and others that they don’t care any more so long as the answer is yes.

There is the small problem of endemic insecurity in Huawei products, as uncovered by the UK’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC). Not to mention the Chinese ambassador reportedly threatening to bin a trade deal with the Faroe Islands unless the Danish archipelago’s government agreed to the building of Huawei 5G networks.

The British government’s latest decision is reportedly due to be made in the third week of January. A high level American negotiating team reportedly flew over today to desperately brief against Huawei getting the green light. ®

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