The UK has a bright global future in front of it. However, if Prime Minister Boris Johnson truly wants to call the UK a 'Science Superpower', then we must not be dependent on foreign powers for the creation and maintenance of our new 5G network. As part of his so-called 'New Deal', the PM must give his backing to our own technology sector to build and develop our 5G system, even if it means a slight delay – argues Jayne Adye, Director of Get Britain Out

With the official deadline for any extension to the Transition Period having passed, we should finally be able to move on as a country and accept we will fully Leave the European Union – with or without a trade deal – at the end of this year. This clarity now allows us to tentatively look beyond Brexit and the vision for this country outside of the EU. One area which is of importance is the development of our future 5G network. Huawei has thankfully been removed from plans, hopefully never to return – especially after China passed the national security law in Hong Kong this week, ending traditional freedoms – such as the right to protest – in breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration Treaty between the UK and China, which returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on July 1st 1997.

With Huawei now out of the picture, we face another issue – where else can we look to build our 5G network? Both Japan and the United States of America have signalled their desire to support the United Kingdom on this matter. Assistance from both of these allies is worth considering as it would be in parallel with the current trade negotiations with both countries. Allowing Japanese or American businesses to play a big part in our 5G network could help grease the wheels towards a good trade deal – certainly an attractive prospect as we look to our future outside the EU. However, this would also mean these countries would have a high degree of leverage over us in these trade talks, with the ability to threaten our technology infrastructure if we do not accept their demands – such as lowering our employment or food standards.

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If we as a country are to really thrive on the global stage – as Boris Johnson said in his 'Build, Build, Build' speech on Tuesday this week, and become 'a Science Superpower', then we must aim for the top. This means embracing help where it is required, but focusing on expanding UK technology firms, so it is they who play the critical role in developing not just our 5G network, but other technological advancements of the future. It's not as if the UK doesn't have a good record on innovation.

Co-operation between allies is always important, but it must not lead to an over-reliance on foreign support, because we can never know where the next threat may come from. 5G is a system which will form the basis of our entire cyber infrastructure for the next few decades and just as we cannot risk allowing China to have any significant access to the system in the UK, the same could be said for any foreign power. For example, just this week we have seen our oldest ally, the USA, disregard our own wellbeing by buying up the entire global stock of Remdesivir (the only drug proven to decrease the recovery time from COVID-19), meaning no other country will be able to buy the drug for 3 months. While not directly related to technology, this decision demonstrates exactly why we have to be prepared to deal with adversity – no matter where it comes from.

Over the next few years, the UK must tread carefully as we take advantage of the global opportunities outside the EU. If we are to reinvigorate our economy, we must not find ourselves escaping the control of Brussels, only to succumb to the power of any another country. Once we Get Britain Out of the EU we must expand UK businesses and encourage local innovation instead of relying on those from abroad. Collaboration will be important and trade deals with our old and new allies should be a priority, however where possible we should power our own economy and growth under our own steam.

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