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HENRY DEEDES: It was almost unanimous – handing our passwords to China is barmy 

After all the Brexit bickering, a rare moment in Parliament yesterday: a House of Commons almost in total agreement.

It occurred during an Urgent Question granted to Tom Tugendhat (Con, Tonbridge & Malling) over Huawei’s potential involvement in building the UK’s 5G network, a decision on which is due from the National Security Council today.

Ex-Army intelligence officer Tugendhat wants nothing to do with Chinese telecoms giant, widely seen as an unofficial arm of President Xi’s government. 

Tom Tugendhat (Con, Tonbridge & Malling) wants nothing to do with Chinese telecoms giant. The reaction around the chamber was almost unanimous. Handing our computer passwords over to Beijing’s waxworks was barmy

He informed the House that involving the Chinese was ‘nesting a dragon in our critical national infrastructure’ and that such a move would be ‘letting the fox into the henhouse when really we should be guarding the fence’.

The reaction around the chamber was almost unanimous. Handing our computer passwords over to Beijing’s waxworks was barmy.

With Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan shipped over to the House of Lords, her junior minister Matt Warman was tasked with speaking for the Government. 

Warman, incidentally an ex-technology reporter, offered up the usual guff about national security being top of the Government’s agenda etc and that any decision made on Huawei and 5G ‘will not be taken lightly’. 

As he spoke, the Prime Minister’s PPS Alex Burghart (Con, Brentwood and Ongar) lurked by the entrance, eyeing matters intently.

From the Government benches, notably crammed with ex-military types, there was widespread incredulity. 

He informed the House that involving the Chinese was ‘nesting a dragon in our critical national infrastructure’ and that such a move would be ‘letting the fox into the henhouse when really we should be guarding the fence’

He informed the House that involving the Chinese was ‘nesting a dragon in our critical national infrastructure’ and that such a move would be ‘letting the fox into the henhouse when really we should be guarding the fence’

Sir Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) thought the decision to involve the Chinese ‘bizarre.’ 

Owen Paterson (North Shropshire) thought it ‘extraordinary’, dropping his hands to his sides in exasperation.

Crispin Blunt (Con, Reigate) had a pop at the Americans opposing the deal, saying it was motivated by their trade war with China. Otherwise, condemnation of Huawei was total.

Bob Seely (Isle of Wight), another ex-military intelligence sort, had a shopping list of queries. 

‘Why have previous ministers claimed that Huawei is a private firm, when in no way is that true?’ he demanded. 

With Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan shipped over to the House of Lords, her junior minister Matt Warman was tasked with speaking for the Government. He is pictured above at an earlier Commons session

With Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan shipped over to the House of Lords, her junior minister Matt Warman was tasked with speaking for the Government. He is pictured above at an earlier Commons session

‘Why are we told that there are no alternatives when there are? We have had so little parliamentary debate on this issue?’ 

‘There are a number of questions there…’ Warman mumbled. The minister was struggling. 

Warman gave what answers he could but looked to be gasping under the wave of opposition. 

He reminded one of a discarded crisp packet swooshed around in a sudden upgust of wind.

Beside him, Helen Whately stared at her phone and puffed out her cheeks, offering little support. They can be thankless tasks answering these UQs. 

John Spellar (Lab, Warley) suspected the Government was trying to build the 5G network ‘on the cheap’ and was risking our relationship with America ‘just to save a few bob’.

Not often your hear Labour MPs sticking up for the Special Relationship these days.

After all the Brexit bickering, a rare moment in Parliament yesterday: a House of Commons almost in total agreement. It occurred during an Urgent Question granted to Tom Tugendhat (Con, Tonbridge & Malling) over Huawei’s potential involvement in building the UK’s 5G network, a decision on which is due from the National Security Council today

After all the Brexit bickering, a rare moment in Parliament yesterday: a House of Commons almost in total agreement. It occurred during an Urgent Question granted to Tom Tugendhat (Con, Tonbridge & Malling) over Huawei’s potential involvement in building the UK’s 5G network, a decision on which is due from the National Security Council today

Sir Bernard Jenkin (Con, Harwich and North Essex) thought the real scandal lay in the UK’s failure to build a 5G network ourselves. 

This prompted supportive nods of the head from Labour’s front bench.

Alicia Kearns (Con, Rutland and Melton) an ex-Foreign Office bod, provoked gurgles of approval by reminding members that China would never have allowed a foreign power to be involved in building their own infrastructure.

Jonathan Reynolds (Lab, Stalybridge and Hyde) raised an interesting point that whenever MPs travel to China they receive security advice not to take their mobile telephones for fear of being compromised.

Were these really the sorts of people we should be doing business with? 

Warman mumbled something about the UK managing its mobile networks differently from China.

Grumpy Chris Bryant (Lab, Rhondda) preferred a moan on behalf of his constituents. 

‘We are talking about 5G, but a lot of my constituents would quite like to see some 4G or, frankly, any G at all!’

Warman briefly managed a wry smile. How he must wish Boris would get on and appoint Morgan’s replacement to save him from afternoons like this.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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