Leaders behind the decision to ban Huawei from British 5G networks have now admitted political pressures played a role. That's according to recent, unattributed reports from the Observer. The politicians who made the determination have not issued a statement on the reports. But, the government is said to have privately conveyed to Huawei that the decision was "geopolitical" in nature.
The implication is that the UK effectively caved to pressure from Washington, resulting in a ban on Huawei equipment.
The British Huawei ban could be reversed but it still stands for now
Publicly, the British government has cited security, not political motivations, for the ban on Huawei. In an announcement following the ban, blame was placed on US sanctions. Specifically, those were sanctions that prevent Huawei from doing business with its usual partners and supply chain. That's forced the company, the government determined, to turn to sources it deems "untrusted."
Huawei, for its part, has come forward to reiterate that it is confident in the security of its networks. Even without those partners, the company indicates that it can maintain network resilience.
The company has also denied any and all claims that it has and does work as a spying tool for the Chinese government. Such concerns are the core source of concerns about the company, ultimately leading to the sanctions in question. The sanctions themselves are widely viewed as a measured response to Chinese market dominance in an ongoing trade dispute.
Regardless, the UK decision to first halt and then remove the use of Huawei equipment may not be the final word on the matter.
The British government has reportedly reassured Huawei that the ban could be "revisited" later on. The source notes that may be a possibility "if Trump failed to win a second term" or if Washington's position on China, in general, were to shift.
The timeline of the ban could align with these reports
The ban, of course, does not go into effect immediately. And it doesn't go into effect quickly either.
No new Huawei 5G equipment can be purchased by UK carriers after December 31. The date falls well after the 2020 Presidential elections are set to take place in the US — cited as the driving force behind the ban. Conversely, all carriers must remove all existing Huawei equipment by the end of 2027. And that, again, gives plenty of time for the geopolitical climate to change.
That the latest reports on the UK's position on Huawei are not well-cited or attributed does mean that they should be taken with a grain of salt. But the timeline of the ban itself would make sense in the context of geopolitical reasoning behind the ban, whether coincidentally or otherwise.