A UK trade deal with the US may already be at risk following the Government’s decision to allow Huawei access to its 5G mobile networks. American Vice-President Mike Pence told CNBC that his administration did not “believe” using the Chinese firm’s assets were in the “security or privacy interests” of either country. He warned that this remains a “real issue” between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, and could be a deal breaker in the future. This follows reports of an “apoplectic” between the two leaders, in which Mr Trump raged at the Prime Minister for sticking to the decision.
When asked how “disappointed” he was about the British granting access to Huawei, Mr Pence told CNBC: “I think the President’s been very clear.
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterared it this week. The United States is very disappointed that the United Kingdom has decided to go forward with Huawei.
“I never comment on the President’s private conversations with me or others.
“But we’re profoundly disappointed.”
He continued: “Look, when I went, at the President’s direction in September, I met with Prime Minister Johnson.
“I told him the moment the UK is out of Brexit, we were willing to begin a negotiation of a free trade arrangement with the UK.
“Now the UK is out of Brexit, our teams are have begun that process to work.
“But we just don’t believe that utlising the assets and technologies of Huawei is consistent with the security or privacy interests of the UK, of the United States and it remains a real issue between our two countries.”
According to the Financial Times, the US president made clear to the Prime Minister his anger about the decision, which was taken despite American warnings about the firm’s alleged links to the Chinese state.
Downing Street’s official version of the Trump-Johnson phone call made no mention of the row.
In a statement issued afterwards, a Number 10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister spoke to President Trump this afternoon and updated him on the outcome of the UK’s telecoms supply chain review.
“The Prime Minister underlined the importance of like-minded countries working together to diversify the market and break the dominance of a small number of companies.”
But the Financial Times reports that the call was “very difficult”, with President Trump making his anger clear in no uncertain terms.