The head of MI5 is confident that the United States' exchange of information with Britain will not be compromised if Britain uses Huawei technology in future 5G cellular networks. A final decision on the admission is due shortly.
Andrew Parker said he had "no reason to believe today" that the long-standing intelligence partnership would be affected, despite intensifying US lobbying against the Chinese company's deployment in a critical part of its national infrastructure.
But the spy chief's statements come when a U.S. delegation – including National Security Agency officials – is going to visit the UK to persuade the UK to introduce a general ban.
A final decision by the British ministers on Huawei has been postponed repeatedly after a general decision was made last spring to allow the Chinese company to deliver "non-core" parts of the 5G high-speed networks.
The decision was made with a 5 to 4 vote in a private session of the National Security Council, and the subsequent loss was blamed on then Secretary of Defense Gavin Williamson, who was then dismissed by then Prime Minister Theresa May.
British intelligence has argued that all risks can be controlled by Huawei, and the rare public comments from the head of domestic intelligence are interpreted to offer further support to Boris Johnson if he decides against Donald Trump.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Parker said the information exchange between the United States and the United Kingdom was "very tight and trustworthy". He added: “Of course it's very important for us. And I dare say, even in the United States, although that is to say for them. It is a one way street. "
However, older ministers like Williamson have been concerned about potential surveillance risks when using Huawei technology in the past. Some were heavily engaged by their counterparts in the United States.
A final decision is also seen as a crucial early signal on how Britain is moving towards US orbit, as trade talks with Washington and Brussels are imminent after Britain officially left the EU in late January.
Last month at the NATO summit, Johnson said that he did not want Britain to be hostile to foreign investment – before suggesting that the impact on future information exchange would be critical to his final decision.
“On the other hand, we cannot compromise our important national security interests, nor can we compromise our ability to work with other Five Eyes [US, New Zealand Australia and Canada] Security partner. That is the decisive criterion for our decision about Huawei. "
Huawei has denied ever being asked by the Chinese government to introduce secret "back doors" in its technology, and has even offered to sign a "no-spy agreement" with countries that adopt it.
Its position is strengthened by the fact that Vodafone and other cellular companies say it is the cheapest and most advanced 5G device provider on the market, a point recognized by the MI5 leader.
"Perhaps we need to focus more and discuss more about how we can move into a future where there is a wider range of competition and more confident choices than missing a yes or no to Chinese technology," said Parker ,
The UK's final decision is now expected in a few weeks.