Ditching Huawei would be bad for the UK economy post-Brexit

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Further attempts to restrict or remove Huawei from the UK will spoil trade relations with China at a time when the UK needs it most, the former chair of BT has said.

In an open letter defending the embattled Chinese telecoms giant, Sir Mike Rake, the UK's Huawei advisor, said that further restrictions on the firm could damage the UK's post-Brexit economy.

The letter comes amid increasing pressure from the US, as well as inside the UK government, to ditch the Chinese firm over alleged security fears.

White House officials have made repeated attempts to convince US allies of the risks with Huawei, while a cohort of Tory MPs has also reportedly voiced concerns.

Most of the UK's major networks have already embedded Huawei's telecoms technology and the government recently announced it was not going to change that by granting the firm a "limited" role in its infrastructure.

In his letter, Sir Rake pointed to GCHQ's assessment that any Huawei risk can be managed with the safeguards and limits which the UK's government has already established.

"Any attempt to further restrict Huawei 5G equipment, or to remove existing 4G equipment will not only incur very significant costs but prejudice trade relationships with China and will significantly set back the Government's broadband ambitions," he wrote. "This, in turn, will further damage our competitiveness as an economy, at what is a critical moment.

"We cannot afford to set back the important technological and communication progress we have made, with ill-informed assertions which are not supported by the facts and the experts. The government has taken an evidence-based decision and we should all support it."

Part of the problem with ditching Huawei is a lack of alternatives, with the US reportedly keen on developing one in partnership with the UK. It's also worth noting that Huawei's CEO, Ren Zhengfei also suggested that Huawei would be willing to offer its services for Western firms to develop their own 5G alternative.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.