Sir John Sawers said new US sanctions imposed on the company meant that allowing Huawei to expand its grip on the UK telecoms market posed security risks that did not apply when the government announced a compromise solution in January giving it up to 35% of the market.
Sawers spoke out following reports – not denied by the government – that the National Cyber Security Centre has also concluded that the balance of risk has changed, and that Huawei must be excluded from 5G.
The decision, which is expected to be confirmed by the national security council within the next fortnight and announced in a statement to parliament before the summer recess, will be warmly welcomed by many Conservative MPs, 38 of whom rebelled in a vote on this issue in March.
In an article for the FT, Sawers said the original decision to allow Huawei a partial role in building 5G was a “reasonable balance” but that was no longer the case because of the sanctions, which would stop the firm using technology reliant on American intellectual property.
The security risks of relying on Huawei — a Communist front corporation — were always real. Trump’s sanctions just gave Britain the little extra impetus they needed to make the right decision.