As if the United Kingdom doesn’t have enough on its plate already due to this little annoyance called Brexit, its government now somehow appears even shakier than a week ago after a top security official ended up being fired over the latest scandal involving Huawei. For once, though, the Chinese company appears to be entirely free of any blame for the ordeal seeing how the root cause of the problem isn’t a (potential) breach of its technologies but a leak originating from the highest level of the British government.
The information in question emerged last month, having been obtained by the English media from what Prime Minister Theresa May believes is the Department of Defence. Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson, was hence fired on Wednesday and while he wasn’t personally accused of leaking sensitive details of the British government’s discussions concerning the future of telecommunications and all critical systems supported by the said tech in the country, the move was officially associated as a reaction to the leak. The now-ex-Secretary vehemently denied the accusations, asserting it has been an honor to serve his country and expressing disappointment in the conclusions of the PM’s office that led to his dismissal.
He said as much publicly and in writing, having sent a farewell letter to the House of Commons which he also shared online yesterday.
While there’s no doubt the critical information leaked from the National Security Council, Mr. Williamson is adamant his department is not responsible for them. PM May privately offered the former official an opportunity to step down himself, which he referenced in his letter, thanking her for the move but concluding that a resignation would equal an admission of wrongdoing on the part of either him personally or his inner circle, once again stressing he is confident that is not the case. The effective end to his political career isn’t as relevant as restoring the general public’s trust in the NSC, the ex-official argued in the letter to parliament.
The UK has been having security issues with Huawei for years now, not in the sense of actual high-profile breaches but in the context of questionable development and update practices that may be leaving some of its infrastructure vulnerable to outside attacks. The Chinese conglomerate argues its solutions are just as safe and prone to vulnerabilities as those offered by its rivals, having repeatedly dismissed allegations of intentional loopholes as malevolent and unequivocally false.
Now, less than half a year after publicly pledging to look into concerns voiced by government officials and oversight authorities, Huawei is understood to have won some favor with London and was already allowed to play a limited role in the UK’s 5G deployment efforts, according to the leaked story that prompted Mr. Williamson’s dismissal. While there’s currently no indication that the Shenzen-based firm will be allowed any degree of access to the core parts of the next-generation wireless infrastructure in the country, the sole fact it’s sticking around after building out most British 4G LTE networks suggests Huawei will survive both Brexit and the political storm the U.S. cooked up over its network business in Europe.