Donald Trump has claimed he forced Boris Johnson to change his stance on allowing Chinese telecoms firm Huawei access to Britain’s 5G network.
The US President said he had a ‘big and tough talk’ with the Prime Minister, and threatened to stop doing business with Britain if he went ahead with his plan.
He said this forced Mr Johnson to change his mind and ‘terminate’ the deal with the Chinese firm. The President, in an interview with Fox News yesterday, boasted: ‘The UK, they were set to buy the Huawei system.
‘I had a big talk and a tough talk with Boris and I said if you do that system you can forget about Scotland Yard, frankly, because we can’t do business with you. And they were all set to do it and they terminated it.’
It is understood that by ‘Scotland Yard’, Mr Trump was actually referring to the intelligence agencies and threats to stop sharing intelligence with Britain.
He also said Italy was set to sign up the Huawei system and then terminated it, and added: ‘Australia has been great from the beginning, I’ll tell you what, they’ve been a great ally.’ Asked if there would be a summit, he said: ‘We’re very unified. These countries are almost as angry as I am at the plague being released into their country.
‘China stopped the plague from going into China but they didn’t stop the plague from going into Europe and all over the world.
‘Those countries have suffered more than we have in many ways, they’ve been decimated.’ Mr Trump’s comments came after his explosive row with the Prime Minister on the phone after he decided in January this year to allow Huawei to help build the UK’s 5G network.
Following that decision, the US slapped sanctions on the firm which led to the UK carrying out a fresh review of their decision.
Then last month Mr Johnson did a U-turn and said Huawei – which the US has accused of spying for China – would be banned from the network by 2027. Mobile phone providers are also banned from buying new Huawei kit after the end of this year.
The decision followed growing security concerns about China and increased tensions over its decision to impose a new security law on Hong Kong, a former British territory.
It also followed a mounting rebellion by Tory MPs who claimed they would vote against any government plans to allow Huawei in to the network. The company has repeatedly denied claims it has been used by China as a back door for spying.
As speculation mounted that Britain could reverse its original decision on Huawei, China’s top diplomat in London warned such a move would damage Chinese trust in the UK. At a virtual press briefing in London, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming warned Mr Johnson ‘you cannot have a golden era if you treat China as an enemy’.
Liu also defended his country’s new national security law and slammed the UK’s offer to give up to 3million Hong Kong nationals a path to citizenship, describing the move as a gross interference in China’s affairs.
He said a ban on Huawei would have many consequences, including damaging the UK’s reputation as ‘a business-friendly, open, transparent environment’.
Telecoms experts have warned previously that any Government attempt to force them to remove Huawei kit from the networks too quickly could lead to mass UK phone signal blackouts.
Downing Street did not respond to a request for comment last night.