The US government is continuing to pressure the UK to ban Huawei from its 5G network infrastructure

The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, appears to have cast doubt over Huawei’s participation in the UK’s 5G network rollout, despite previously hinting that there would be no reason to exclude the Chinese tech giant.

Huawei has already been involved with the initial 5G deployments of at least three of the UK’s big four mobile operators (EE, Vodafone and Three) and has 5G trials in place with the fourth (O2).

US president, Donald Trump, has long attempted to bully the UK government into banning Huawei, on the basis that it represents an (unspecified and unsubstantiated) risk to its national security. Mr Trump has threatened to cease the sharing of security intelligence with countries who dare to defy his demands.  

Mr Johnson’s resistance now appears to be wavering as he looks to smooth the way for post-Brexit trade negotiations between the UK and the US.  

“I don’t want this country to be unnecessarily hostile to investment from overseas but, on the other hand, we cannot prejudice our vital national security interests,” Mr Johnson said.

So far, Mr Johnson has not provided details of how operators would be expected to remove Huawei’s 5G network equipment from their telecoms networks. UK operators have previously warned that any ban on the world’s biggest 5G vendor in the UK’s next generation networks would cost hundreds of millions of pounds and cost the UK its leadership position on 5G.

Huawei said that it remained confident that the UK government would continue to work with it on 5G network security.

“We’re confident the UK government will continue to take an objective, evidence-based approach to cyber security. Our customers trust us because we supply the kind of secure, resilient systems called for by the NATO Declaration and will continue working with them to build innovative new networks,” a Huawei spokesperson said.