LONDON — When it comes to Huawei, Boris Johnson wants to have his cake and eat it.
Weeks after winning an election, during which he promised to improve the U.K.’s lagging technology infrastructure, the prime minister is mulling whether to allow the Chinese tech giant to help him deliver this pledge or to bow to intense U.S. lobbying to keep Huawei out of Britain’s 5G network.
A delegation of U.S. officials from the National Security Agency (NSA) traveled to London Monday for discussions with their British counterparts, the latest visit in a year-long campaign by the U.S. government to convince its European allies to block the Chinese telecom vendor.
Reports surfaced following the meetings Monday that the U.S. had warned the British government it “would be madness” to use Huawei technology in the U.K.’s 5G network.
But in an interview with BBC on Tuesday, the U.K. prime minister appeared to challenge the claim.
Johnson will also be reluctant to further antagonize relations with European countries.
“The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology … we want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody. If people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us, ‘what is the alternative?’” he said when asked about the reports.
Following a rare intervention by MI5 Director General Andrew Parker, officials and politicians in the U.K. believe the prime minister is looking for a compromise.