UK government in tatters over Huawei leak

UK government in tatters over Huawei leak

After being sacked over the Huawei leak, former UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson said he would be “absolutely exonerated” by a police investigation amid calls for a criminal prosecution.

The opposition Labour Party wants an investigation to see if he broke the Official Secrets Act when details of a top-secret National Security Council (NSC) discussion on the controversial Chinese telecoms giant was leaked to a newspaper.

Williamson could face up to two years in prison.

In the UK, ministers are normally allowed to resign rather face the sack. 

Enfeebled Prime Minister Theresa May said an inquiry had found “compelling evidence” suggesting he was to blame.

She said she was “concerned” with the manner in which Williamson had engaged with the probe by Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill.

Labour defence spokeswoman Nia Griffith told the BBC: “Clearly, there’s a real breakdown in discipline and Theresa May now needs to take absolutely firm action, and, quite frankly, I think she needs to call in the police and have a full investigation, because we are talking, actually, breaking the Official Secrets Act and, actually, there may well be a case to answer here.

“I think it was absolutely treacherous – both to the country, but also to the prime minister.”

Williamson denied the allegations.

“I volunteered everything up. I couldn’t have volunteered more information on the whole thing. Frankly I’d rather have had a police inquiry, because the beauty of a police inquiry is I’d have been absolutely exonerated and would have been in the clear.”

Williamson said he rejected an offer from May to resign rather than be sacked, saying a resignation would have been an admission of guilt.

Brexit 

May is reportedly preparing to accept that Britain will remain in line with the European Union’s customs rules for years after Brexit in a deal with Labour.

Under the terms of an apparent agreement, May is close to signing up to a customs union with Brussels in return for Labour supporting her withdrawal agreement.

May hinted that she was ready to move one of her many red lines. She told MPs that both sides agreed on “some of the benefits of a customs union”.

London would reportedly agree to enter a “customs arrangement” with Brussels at the end of the transition period. This would include Britain aligning all tariffs on goods with the EU and allowing it to negotiate trade deals on Britain’s behalf, which would offend Tory Brexiteers.

The arrangement would continue at least until “alternative arrangements” could be found to maintain “frictionless trade”, May told MPs.

Labour might insist on a people’s vote in exchange for backing her withdrawal agreement. 

 

Gavin Williamson with RAF personnel. Picture credit: Edwards Air Force Base 

 

 

 

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