Boris Johnson will today chair a meeting of the National Security Council as he decides whether to grant Chinese tech company Huawei a role in the UK’s 5G network.
A final decision is expected by the end of the week.
The prime minister has suggested a balance can be found between using Huawei to help deliver the benefits of the new technology and allaying security concerns.
Opponents of allowing the Chinese company to build the network say that, while cheaper than using rivals, allowing Huawei would risk handing over control of infrastructure to Beijing.
They argue that Huawei has close links to the Chinese government and its equipment could be used for espionage purposes – something the company has always denied.
Yet Mr Johnson said it was possible both to have access to “fantastic technology” and to “protect our key partnerships with other security powers”.
There have been concerns that, in the face of US suspicion about Huawei, intelligence sharing with the UK via the “Five Eyes” alliance could be under threat.
On Monday, in response to a reporter’s question about the decision during a visit to a London university, Mr Johnson hinted at a decision that would satisfy all concerns.
“There is no reason why we shouldn’t have technological progress here in the UK, allow consumers, businesses in the UK to have access to fantastic technology, to fantastic communications but also protect our key partnerships with other security powers around the world,” he said.
“So the Five Eyes security relationships we have, we have got to keep them strong and safe.
“We are going to come up with a solution that enables us to achieve both those objectives.”
Donald Trump has suggested intelligence-sharing co-operation with Britain could be at risk if Huawei is given a 5G role.
The US president has previously put trade restrictions on Huawei in America.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heightened the pressure on the prime minister over the issue as he described how “the UK has a momentous decision ahead on 5G”.
In a tweet on Sunday night, Mr Pompeo repeated comments from Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, who was chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee prior to the general election.
Mr Pompeo, who is due to visit the UK this week, added: “British MP Tom Tugendhat gets it right: ‘The truth is that only nations able to protect their data will be sovereign.'”
Mr Tugenhadt told Sky News on Monday that “protecting data is just as important as protecting soil” in defending the “sovereign interest of the British people”.
Ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU on Friday night, Mr Tugendhat added: “This is one of those cases where if we get it wrong we will pay for it for many, many years and effectively we’ll have taken back control from Brussels at the risk of handing it over to Beijing.”
Labour leadership contender Sir Keir Starmer called on the prime minister to make a statement to parliament ahead of this week’s expected decision.
“He’s done a bit of a runner, has Boris Johnson, he’s not around, he’s not leading from the front,” the shadow Brexit secretary told Sky News.
The Financial Times has reported that the government could approve a “restricted role” for Huawei in Britain’s 5G network.
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