"China will certainly launch a cyber attack on the UK after Huawei's removal"

13 July 2020, 09:04 | Updated: 13 July 2020, 09:06

By Fiona Jones

Former Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood warns the UK will "absolutely" experience a cyber attack from China after Huawei's removal from 5G infrastructure.

Pressure is growing on ministers to wind down the Chinese technology firm Huawei's involvement in the construction of the UK's 5G network.

Attitudes towards China hardened after both the pandemic and the US's bill that will impose sanctions on Chinese officials that undermine Hong Kong's semi-autonomous status.

Former Defence Minister and Tory MP Tobias Ellwood told LBC the National Security Council is meeting on Tuesday where a "major decision" is expected to be made; whether or not Huawei is a high risk vendor and if it will be kicked out immediately, in a couple of years or in seven years.

However he told LBC's Tom Swarbrick he did not believe it possible to have all Huawei equipment removed from the UK's 5G infrastructure by the end of the year as this would be extremely costly - instead he predicted a timeline may be put in place.

"We have to bear in mind we have the United States and Australia are very much encouraging us to get out. They don't trust Huawei, I don't trust Huawei either," Mr Ellwood said.

"UK will certainly experience a cyber attack from China after Huawei&squot;s removal"
"UK will certainly experience a cyber attack from China after Huawei's removal". Picture: PA

"What we're seeing is how Huawei is utilised by China, by its intelligence services as well, to collect data on its own people and we've also seen that happen across the field as well. We want to have secure telecomms infrastructure in the UK, I'm afraid we're going to have to ask them to leave."

Tobias Ellwood told Tom that he "absolutely" expects a reprisal cyber attack from the Chinese government should Huawei get ditched.

"I think as soon as whatever announcement comes on Tuesday there will be reprisals," he said.

"This for me is a final turning point, we need to finally stand up to China, we've been appeasing them for too long in the hope that they'd mature in to a trading nation, in to one we can actually trust. Clearly that hasn't happened.

"There's a Communist party at the heart of this with a very different vision as to where they want to take the world."