PM survives Tory rebellion over Huawei - bringing Chinese firm step closer to UK's 5G network

Huawei is a step closer to being allowed involvement in the UK's 5G network after Boris Johnson survived a Commons revolt over his decision to let the Chinese tech firm help build the infrastructure.

Senior Tories sought guarantees from ministers over restrictions on Huawei's involvement, including a timescale as to when "high risk vendors" would be removed from the system.

But the Government defeated an amendment pushed by Tory former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith by 282 votes to 306, majority 24.

Sir Iain's proposal had sought to ban "high-risk vendors" such as Huawei from involvement in Britain's 5G network after 2022.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain had tabled the amendment citing security risks relating to the Chinese firm, but Mr Johnson's huge Commons majority of 80 meant the move was easily defeated.

The move was backed by several high profile Tories, including former cabinet ministers Damian Green and David Davis, the chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat and the chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady.

But with just 26 Tories signing the amendment ahead of the vote, the rebellion was never likely to succeed.

It would have taken 41 Tory MPs to defy the prime minister in order to defeat the government.

But those against Huawei have indicated they'll again try to block its involvement in UK infrastructure.

Bob Seely, one of the Tories who voted for the amendment, wrote on Twitter: "Surprised by the significant cut in Gov’t majority considering the Bill was not even the right vehicle. It was a strong first showing."

Sir Iain argued against allowing Huawei to be involved with 5G, saying it would compromise the UK's security.urprised by the significant cut in Gov’t majority considering the Bill was not even the right vehicle. It was a strong first showing.

He acknowledged Huawei's cheap prices but claimed its links to the Chinese state meant it could not be trusted.

"The reality is that when it comes to security versus cost, my view is security wins every single time because I worry when we start compromising security."

He added: "We have no friends out there anymore on this issue, whether it's the Canadians, the Americans, the Australians, the New Zealanders, they all disagree with us."

The Commons debate follows Prime Minister Johnson's decision to allow Huawei help build 5G, which was apparently met with fury by Donald Trump.

The US President reportedly blasted Mr Johnson with “apoplectic” rage during a heated phone call regarding the 5G move.

The US claims allowing Huawei into 5G would compromise the UK's security, due to the tech firm's links to the Chinese state.

But a former chairman of BT warned excluding Huawei from Britain's 5G network will "significantly set back" the Government's ambitions to extend broadband access.

Sir Mike Rake, who now acts as an adviser to the Chinese tech giant, hit out at what he said were "ill-informed assertions" about the dangers of allowing the company access to the UK's critical national infrastructure.

Tory backbencher Mr Seely said the group of MPs were "laying down a marker" ahead of other legislation later in the year to establish a comprehensive telecoms security regime.

He said there was "growing momentum" within the party with "three or four MPs" expressing concern to the whips for every one likely to vote for the amendment next week.

"We want to work with the Government, not to defeat it.

"We want to co-operate with the Government to get a better solution," Mr Seely said.

Mr Johnson's official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: "Market failure has left us in this position and we want to get to a position where we do not have to use a high risk vendor in our telecoms network.

"We will keep the 35% market cap under review.

"Our intention is for this share to reduce as market diversification takes place.

"We will work with the US and our partners to diversify the telecoms market and develop alternative suppliers."