BORIS Johnson is poised to slash China’s stranglehold over Britain’s 5G network in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The PM has ordered aides to draw up plans to scale back Huawei’s foothold in infrastructure to zero before the next election.
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He believes the pandemic should be a global wake-up call over the dangers of China’s spreading world influence.
And he wants the UK to be much less reliant on the communist state for goods and technology over the next four to five years.
Mr Johnson has demanded a more arms-length relationship with China as he prepares to visit the US for the G7 summit - his first trip abroad since the crisis began.
He will ramp up trade talks with US President Donald Trump as Brexit negotiations with the EU have become increasingly fractious.
A re-think of the Huawei comes amid a mounting backlash from Tory MPs in the wake of the pandemic which began in the Wuhan.
Former Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who voted against government plans to let Huawei into the UK network, warned China had too many allegations on its chargesheet.
He is among 186 politicians from 23 countries who ahve signed a statement blasting Beijing’s unilateral introduction of national security laws in Hong Kong in “flagrant breach” of the British handover of the territory in 1997.
Writing in The Sun on Sunday today, he adds: “China is at a crossroads and needs to decide whether it wants to genuinely become a partner in the global community or take a path to becoming a pariah state. That choice is in their hands. Our national security lies in ours.”
Dr Fox accused China of covering up the initial scale of the outbreak and hampering attempts by leading world scientists to investigate its cause.
A cyber attack which exposed the data of around nine million easyJet customers has been also linked to Beijing.
And there is mounting suspicion over Beijing’s attempts to cash in on the impact of the pandemic on the rest of the world.
Tory MPs have warned the “rushed” deal had left Britain “friendless” after members of the Five Eyes alliance raised fears over spying.
Mr Johnson is said to have had “serious concerns” about the 5G deal struck by Theresa May, but which he signed off in January.
An insider said: “The coronavirus crisis has changed everything. The PM thinks it’s time to exercise some serious social distancing from China.
“He wants to maintain a relationship with China but not on such a grand scale where it has such a large part to play in our infrastructure.
“He wants a plan to reduce Huawei involvement worked out as quickly as possible.
“He has listened to the concerns of his own MPs and is convinced something must be done.”
President Trump has been highly critical of the UK’s decision to allow Huawei to build 35 per cent of its network, despite spy chiefs branding the telecoms giant a “high-risk vendor”.
He threatened to restrict Britain’s access to Five Eyes intelligence which is gathered and shared by the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, following an “apoplectic” phone call with the Prime Minister over the deal in February.
Before the lockdown, 36 Tories rebelled against the government on a Huawei-amendment.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith tabled a rebel amendment supported by ex-ministers David Davis, Damian Green and Owen Paterson, calling on the Government to eliminate all Huawei technology from the UK’s mobile phone networks by the end of 2022.
He was just 13 MPs short of the number needed to block the Telecommunications Security Bill.
Last night, Sir Iain said: “This will be the start of a complete and thorough review of our dangerous dependency on China.”
Tory MP Bob Seely, who sits on the Commons foreign affairs committee, applauded the move and urged ministers to declare: “No way, Huawei.”
He said: “This is potentially very good news indeed and shows that there is a significant re-evaluation of our relationship with China.
“The evidence is now overwhelming that we need a root and branch reform of our attitude toward China.
“Huawei must stop trying to dig its way into the UK network as it has been doing.
"British telecoms firms now need clear guidance so we can build an advanced comms future without high risk, high-tech from authoritarian states.
“I think it would have been very difficult to get Government legislation through Parliament if Huawei were to be part of the UK’s 5G network.
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“Huawei is part and parcel of the Chinese state. It is a high risk vendor in the UK’s infrastructure. There should be no place for it in the UK.
“Huawei in our 5G network is bad for data privacy, bad for our security, bad for human rights. I’m glad the Government may now be thinking, ‘no way Huawei’.”
Downing Street declined to comment yesterday.
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