2, May 2019
Britain’s defense secretary Gavin Williamson has been sacked from the cabinet over a controversial leak of government discussions suggesting that Chinese telecommunication company Huawei will be a partner in UK’s future internet projects.
A government spokesperson said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Theresa May had lost confidence in Williamson after it emerged as part of an investigation that the former defense minister was the source of the Huawei leak.
“The prime minister’s decision has been informed by his conduct surrounding an investigation into the circumstances of the unauthorized disclosure of information from a meeting of the National Security Council,” said the spokesperson, making a reference to discussions in NSC last week in which May had granted a partial role to Huawei to build Britain’s 5G network.
Firing Williamson came after the United States, which has banned Huawei from a similar 5G project in the country, became angry at UK’s decision to cooperate with the Chinese company.
US officials warned earlier this week that they would withhold sensitive intelligence from the UK if London goes ahead with its partnership with Huawei.
China, however, have been urging the British government to think of its own interests and ignore Washington’s claims that Huawei could become a spying tool at the hands of the Chinese government.
Williamson is quite known for his pro-US stances and has consistently campaigned for close defense and intelligence cooperation with the US.
He was one of five cabinet ministers suspected of leaking NSC discussions to the Daily Telegraph. The government had announced as part of its inquiry that the perpetrators could even face criminal investigation. That could force Williamson to resign his parliamentary seat and prompt a by-election in his constituency.
Williamson had denied any role in the leak while insisting that no one from his department had been involved.