US minister invokes Maggie Thatcher, says she would have halted Huawei 5G rollout

Mike Pompeo reaches beyond grave to read Iron Lady's mind in ongoing security spat

Margaret Thatcher would not let Huawei build Britain's 5G networks, US foreign secretary Mike Pompeo claimed yesterday as British ministers suggested the rollout may be delayed for security reasons.

Pompeo was visiting Britain to deliver a bollocking over the UK government's decision to continue allowing Huawei to build the edge, but not the core, equipment for future mobile phone networks.

His remarks invoking the late leader, one of the longest-serving prime ministers of the 20th century, used her political nickname of the Iron Lady.

"Ask yourself this. Would the Iron Lady be silent when China violates the sovereignty of nations through corruption and coercion? Would she have welcomed the Belt and Road initiative without demanding absolute transparency and the highest standards? Would she allow China to control the internet of the future?" Secretary of State Pompeo was reported as saying by political journalists.

Thatcher died in 2013 and never mentioned Huawei in Parliament. Her main concerns with China were the smooth return of Hong Kong to Chinese political control when tea-sucking, opium-dealing Britain's 99-year lease on the colony came to an end in 1997.

"Look, I know it's a sensitive topic," Pompeo continued, "but we have to talk about sensitive things as friends. As a matter of Chinese law, the Chinese government can rightfully demand access to data flowing through Huawei and ZTE systems. Why would anyone grant such power to a regime that has already grossly violated cyberspace?"

Separately, Minister of Fun* Jeremy Wright told Parliament there is "certainly the possibility of a delay in the process of the rollout of 5G", asserting that rushing into a live commercial deployment would end up being done "without any consideration for security".

"I don't exclude the possibility that there will be some delay," he repeated. "The primary intention of this process is to get the security of the network right." ®

* The Culture Secretary, also known as the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

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