World News

U.K. Prepares to Start Huawei 5G Phase-Out as Soon as This Year

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to begin phasing out the use of Huawei Technologies Co. equipment in the U.K.’s 5G telecoms network as soon as this year, a person familiar with the matter said.

A report from the National Cybersecurity Centre concluded that new U.S. sanctions mean Huawei will have to use untrusted technology, making security risks impossible to control, according to the person, who confirmed a story in the Sunday Telegraph.

Officials are drawing plans to speed up the removal of existing Huawei kit, although an exact timetable is yet to be set, said the person, who asked not to be named discussing unpublished proposals. No date has yet been set for a cross-government discussion at the National Security Council.

If taken, the decision would mark a U-turn by Johnson’s administration, which in January cleared Huawei to participate in the U.K.’s 5G build-out subject to strict conditions, including a 35% cap on its involvement and a bar on its gear being used in parts of the network deemed sensitive. Ministers argued the U.K. needed diversity in its suppliers, and that any risks involved in using Chinese equipment could be mitigated.

Trump Opposition

But the decision was opposed by Donald Trump’s U.S. administration, which wanted Johnson to impose an outright ban on the Shenzhen-based tech giant, citing concerns that its gear could be vulnerable to infiltration by Chinese spies. The U.K. prime minister also faced growing hostility from opponents within his own Conservative Party, who believed they had the numbers to block any legislation on the matter.

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Parliament’s Defence Committee on June 30 that the U.S. sanctions on Huawei — which put its microchip supply in jeopardy — are “designed to make 5G designed by Huawei very hard to do.” Sitting alongside him, Culture Secretary Dowden said the sanctions were “likely to have an impact on the viability of Huawei as a provider for the 5G network.”

He also said that Huawei won’t be part of the U.K.’s 5G telecoms networks in the long term, adding that he welcomes approaches from alternative vendors including South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and Japan’s NEC Corp.

Formal Advice

Dowden may provide Johnson with formal advice as soon as this week on Huawei, according to the person familiar.

“We are considering the impact the U.S.’s additional sanctions against Huawei could have on U.K. networks,” the British government said on Sunday in an emailed statement. “This is an ongoing process and we will update further in due course.”

For its part, Huawei said in a statement on Sunday that it’s “open to discussions” with the government.

“We are working closely with our customers to find ways of managing the proposed U.S. restrictions so the U.K. can maintain its current lead in 5G,” Huawei Vice-President Victor Zhang said. “We believe it is too early to determine the impact of the proposed restrictions, which are not about security, but about market position.”

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World News

Boris Johnson returns to his happy place: upbeat, vague and incoherent

The past few months have been a bit of a downer for Boris Johnson – just one bad news story after another. So it was time for a rewrite. The equivalent of Dallas series nine when it turned out everything had been a dream. Boris would go back to his happy place of last year’s general election campaign, when all he had to do was turn up and say the same old bollocks about “getting Brexit done” and “levelling up the country” and people would be fawning over his every word.

So at the Dudley Institute of Technology in the West Midlands, Johnson rehashed one of his old campaign speeches for the relaunch of “Love Boris”. Only without the bits about Brexit, which was well and truly done now, given that this was the last day he could have asked the EU for an extension to the transition. Here was Boris at his most upbeat. His most vague. His most incoherent. God help baby Wilfred if Boris ever gets round to reading him a bedtime story.

There was the briefest of nods to the coronavirus pandemic, but even here Boris didn’t want to kowtow to all the doomsters and gloomsters who had picked holes in the government’s response over the past few months. Yes, a few people had died and it was awkward that there was a spike in the infection rate in Leicester just as he was planning to ease lockdown restrictions elsewhere in England, but couldn’t we all forget about the bad stuff just for today? Why not concentrate instead on all the hundreds of thousands of people the government hadn’t managed to kill and the millions who had been saved – for the time being, at least – from unemployment through the furlough scheme?

Then we got down to the nitty-gritty. Boris didn’t want to draw comparisons with Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal, though if others did, he wasn’t going to complain. Only FDR had spent 40% of US GDP on a whole load of job creation schemes, while Boris was stumping up the princely sum of 0.2% of UK GDP. Or £5bn of old money that had already been promised in the March budget.

As so often with Boris, his whole speech was based on a lie. He was acting as if he was announcing something new when the money had already been accounted for. You can get away with recycling old columns for the Daily Telegraph, but you quickly get found out as prime minister.

It also turned out that the £5bn was going to have to go an awfully long way as Boris listed the various infrastructure improvements he had in mind for schools, hospitals, roads and housing. Though it did also sound as if he thought hospitals were funded out of philanthropy, as he went out of his way to praise the £35m that Captain Tom had raised for the NHS.

All this, though, depended on Operation Speed – something the prime minister may have taken too literally, as the entire speech sounded as if it was being delivered by someone off his head on amphetamines. Just one long gabble of barely connected sentences with only a passing nod to reality.

Planning rules would be ripped up. Honest Bob Jenrick had merely been a month or two ahead of the game. There would be no more room for “newt-counting”, as the French and Germans were well ahead of us in housebuilding. Just as well we were leaving the EU then. Boris didn’t even appear to realise that he was now promising to build in eight years what he had originally promised to build in five. Speed can do that to you.

Having raced through a long list of government infrastructure projects – Boris is going to get a hell of a shock when he realises who has been in government for the past 10 years to let things gets so bad – he was momentarily concerned that some traditional Tories might think he was a communist for even daring to suggest doing more for those who had been hardest hit by austerity. Not that there had ever been such a thing as austerity. That was just a word dreamed up by the Labour party along with David Cameron and George Osborne.

So just to make sure that everyone knew he also cared deeply about the filthy rich, he proposed a weekly “clap for capitalists” night. Just as on Thursdays the public had gone out on to the streets to applaud the NHS and emergency services, Friday should be the day we go outside to thank Richard “Dirty” Desmond and the other multimillionaires who had done so much to Make Britain Great Again. Though we must be sure to clap very loudly, or some of them might not hear from their tax havens abroad.

Predictably, Boris struggled when it came to the questions. He merely shrugged when it was pointed out to him that £75 a head probably wouldn’t go that far and that right now more people were worried about the more immediate concern of whether they would still have a job in a couple of months than building projects that might take years to complete. “Um,” he said, sure that jobs in the hospitality and services sectors would soon be back on stream.

“Wait for what Rishi has to say next week,” he added, before getting himself into a tangle by committing himself to a public sector pay freeze or a tax rise. Let the chancellor sort that problem out. Boris looked to his handlers before heading for the exit. It had been a shambles, but it had served a purpose. For a few hours he had got people talking about things that may or may not happen instead of coronavirus. And he’d conveniently diverted attention away from Michael Gove’s hopeless efforts to explain to the Commons why the best way to ensure a diverse and decentralised government was to stuff No 10 with trusted “yes men”.

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World News

Psychic energy in, newt counters out: Boris Johnson’s magic economic potion

Boris Johnson delivered his vision for the country’s post-lockdown economic recovery in Dudley, West Midlands, on Tuesday, standing at a podium emblazoned with the words “Build, build, build”. As well as setting out his “levelling up” agenda and plans for a “new deal”, he talked about zero-emission jets, “psychic energies” and told journalists he was not a communist.

Preparing for the worst

The prime minister used his speech to spell out the economic “generational challenge” ahead and why he believed this required a massive programme for investment. He said the country was in the period between “the flash of lightning and the thunderclap”, “with our hearts in our mouths”, awaiting the full economic fallout from coronavirus. By setting out plans for building and infrastructure projects, dubbed “Build back better”, he said financial recovery was possible even though coronavirus was still “circling like a shark”.

The things they got right

Boris Johnson was keen to justify the government’s much criticised coronavirus response. He admitted there were lessons to learn, but insisted that there had been achievements, citing the 10-day installation of the Nightingale hospitals, the furlough scheme, the British companies manufacturing ventilators and the University of Oxford’s trials for dexamethasone.

Boris Johnson’s ‘new deal’ speech: what is missing?

Levelling up

Johnson said he was doubling down on his well-used 2019 general election commitment to make regions of the UK more equal. As a former mayor of London, he said he did not want to impede the capital’s success, but to fix the “indefensible gap in opportunity”. His “build, build, build” message included schools, hospitals, homes, rail and road, with priority projects falling under the banner of Project Speed.


He dodged direct questions on whether taxes would go up to pay for the huge levels of investment, suggesting the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, would set out measures in due course. After being challenged to say whether he was more Margaret Thatcher or Gordon Brown when it came to taxation, he eventually said his natural instinct was to see taxes reduced, but as the country faced significant challenges, he would try to ensure the burden on the public remained “reasonable”. On borrowing, he said the government was planning to “invest now, when the cost of borrowing allows it”.

Boris Johnson’s ‘revolutionary new deal’ is a hollow distraction | Rafael Behr


Johnson claimed to have the “magic potion for dark times” ahead. In characteristically colourful language, he said the country must distil the very best of the “psychic energy” of the last few months. “Let’s take the zap and elan of the armed services who helped to build the Nightingales, the public spirit and the good humour of the entire population, and let’s brew them together with the superhuman energy of Captain Tom. Let’s take that combination, that spirit, bottle it, swig it.”


The prime minister promised to take a scythe to the red tape of the planning system, mocking the “newt counting” that could lead to lengthy holdups and prevent projects from being built. His proposals would be the most radical since the second world war, he suggested, lamenting that UK procurement took 50% longer than Germany’s and that the UK built 2.25 homes for each 1000 people in 2018 compared with France’s 6.8.

Asked whether he was prepared to stand up to middle England and Nimbys over building projects, he said: “I believe this country has got the space on brownfield sites and land that could be developed if it had the right infrastructure.”

‘I am not a communist’

Perhaps fearing he may have worried his free-marketeer support base with talk of a Roosevelt-style new deal, Johnson bizarrely explained that he was not a communist. He suggested capitalists and wealth creators should receive an NHS-style clap for their work for the economy.

“My friends, I am not a communist … Yes, of course we clap for our NHS, but under this government we also applaud those who make our NHS possible, our innovators, our wealth creators, our capitalists and financiers.”

The union

The prime minister said he believed Scotland had been advantaged by its membership of the union in the coronavirus pandemic, because workers had been able to use the furlough scheme. “I believe the union has more than showed its worth,” he said. He added that there would be a new study of all future road, rail, air and cross-sea links between the four nations, seen as a nod to his Scotland-Northern Irish bridge idea. He also promised to complete turning the A1 into a dual carriageway.


The prime minister said the UK would try to build the first zero-carbon plane. “We should set ourselves the goal now of producing the world’s first zero-emission long-haul passenger plane. Jet Zero, let’s do it,” he said. Keeping tech innovators in the UK rather than losing them to the US was key for British jobs, he said.

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