Boris Johnson is set to make the biggest decision of his premiership so far as he decides whether to let Huawei help build Britain’s 5G network.
Top Cabinet Ministers and spy chiefs on the National Security Council meet in Downing Street tomorrow to decide if the controversial Chinese tech giant can have a role in the UK’s system.
An announcement is expected in Parliament later.
Critics claim the company is a security risk because it could allow the Chinese state backdoor entry into British system, allowing it to spy on people and government.
Huawei insists it has never handed over information and nor would it do so.
But US officials have repeatedly urged British counterparts not to let Huawei into the UK network.
They suggested intelligence sharing through the Five Eyes alliance, which includes the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, could be at risk.
Mr Johnson insisted he will not “jeopardise” the UK’s security relationships when he makes the decision.
The Prime Minister claimed it would be possible to give Britons access to “fantastic technology” while also protecting “key partnerships with other security powers”.
Speaking at King’s College London Mathematics School, he said: “The way forward for us clearly is to have a system that delivers for people in this country the kind of consumer benefits that they want through 5G technology or whatever, but does not in any way compromise our critical national infrastructure, our security or jeopardise our ability to work together with other intelligence powers around the world.
“The Five Eyes security relationships we have, we’ve got to keep them strong and safe.”
It is thought a compromise could be thrashed out so Huawei is only allowed into the non-critical parts of the system.
The PM has been warned he risks breaking a manifesto pledge to rollout superfast broadband if Huawei is shutout of the UK.
Others say it will cost billions to rip Huawei systems out of existing technology.
Mr Johnson said: “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have technological progress here in the UK, allow consumers, businesses in the UK access to have access to fantastic technology, fantastic communications, but also protect our security interests and protect our key partnerships with other security powers around the world.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “The UK has a momentous decision ahead on 5G.”
Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, a former Army Colonel, accused the Government of “nesting the dragon” by paving the way for Huawei to enter the UK infrastructure.
“Perhaps we should beware of strangers and the gifts they bear,” he told Digital Minister Matt Warman in an urgent Commons debate.
“The idea that we should be nesting that dragon, the idea that we should be allowing the fox into the hen house when really we should be guarding the wire, is one of those moments where I hope the minister will see his responsibility very clearly.”
Mr Warman hit back: “The security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance.
“We welcome open trade and inward investment however our economy can only prosper and unleash Britain’s potential when we and our international partners are assured that our critical national infrastructure remains safe and secure.”