Boris Johnson has insisted he would not risk Britain’s security by updating the nation’s 5G communications network, but said critics of Chinese technology firm Huawei must find an “alternative” provider.
The prime minister must make a final decision on whether to allow the technology company to operate “non-core” parts of the UK telecommunications system in a matter of weeks.
In his first interview of the new year with BBC Breakfast, Johnson said: “The British public deserves access to the best possible technology. We want to put in gigabit broadband for everyone. Now, if people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us what the alternative is. “
He added: “On the other hand, let’s be clear, I don’t want, as the UK prime minister, to install any infrastructure that harms our national security or our ability to cooperate with Five Eyes intelligence partners. [the UK, Canada, the US, New Zealand and Australia]. “
The United States has repeatedly warned the United Kingdom that allowing Huawei to operate its 5G network could jeopardize the transatlantic intelligence exchange. US officials have said allowing access would be “nothing less than crazy.”
The pressure also comes from the Five Eyes intelligence exchange organization. Australia banned Huawei from running its 5G broadband network last year.
MI5 chief Andrew Parker said over the weekend that “he had no reason to think” that using Huawei technology should threaten the exchange of intelligence with the United States.
In a broad interview, Johnson also said that a trade agreement with the EU in the next 11 months is “epic likely,” but he did not rule out difficulties in complying with the legal calendar he has established.
On the likelihood of a comprehensive trade agreement by December 31, he said it was: “Enormously probable, epically probable.”
He said: “I mean, obviously, you can’t, you always have to budget for a complete failure of common sense, but I am very, very sure that we will get it … it’s not a deal, it’s about building a great new camaraderie. “
In his low profile about the holiday break where he spent time on vacation in the Caribbean, and that led to criticism of an image “similar to a submarine” when it comes to public scrutiny, he said that the submarine is now “crashing through of ice floes. “
In a message to northern voters who changed from Labor to Conservatives in the general election, he said he would help them by putting an additional 20,000 police on the streets and that he would work to liquidate drug trafficking on county lines, as well as invest in health and education.
He said: “There are too many cities, parts of our country, where people don’t feel they have the opportunity.”
On the report on the alleged interference in the EU referendum by Russia, conducted by the parliament’s intelligence and security committee, he said it would be published “in a few weeks.”
Former committee chairman and former parliamentarian Dominic Grieve severely criticized the government for not publishing it during general elections.
Johnson said: “There is absolutely no reason why it should not be published. By chance I read it and I think that after all that clamor in the election campaign I think people are going to be disappointed. ”
There was also a suggestion that the public could be asked to fund the cost of Big Ben at 11 pm on January 31 with collective funds to mark Britain’s exit from the EU. Johnson said he was working on a scheme similar to “bung a bob for a Big Ben bong.”
The House of Commons Commission decided not to consider ringing the bell despite a request from parliamentarians due to the cost of £ 500,000.