Senior Conservatives believe a “large number” of colleagues will vote against allowing the Chinese tech giant to handle a third of all the private data passing along the new generation comms network.
The White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, is set to visit No 10 tomorrow to spell out US President Donald Trump’s anger at the decision to use Huawei and press the Government for a U-turn.
Mr Johnson is not expected to meet the Washington delegation in person, sending counterpart Sir Edward Lister and adviser Dominic Cummings to make the government case that encryption will keep secrets safe.
The opportunity for a binding vote at Westminster arises from the Prime Minister’s pledge to pass legislation capping Huawei’s share of 5G.
If the Government resorts to secondary legislation, which cannot be amended, then MPs will table an arcane “prayer” that would annul it if passed. Former Brexit secretary David Davis said MPs were looking for reassurance.
“There are a lot of questions flying, and if there are not good answers then I think there will be a rebellion,” he told the Standard.
Mr Davis said No 10’s argument that Britain could be left behind in the rush for 5G made no sense because France was willing to wait longer in order to use alternatives to Huawei.
“If they argue that we are stuck with Huawei because of decisions made in the past, then it is even more worthwhile waiting and replacing it.”
Huawei insists it is a commercial company that cannot be ordered by the Chinese state to eavesdrop.
However, none of Britain’s Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partners — America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — is using the firm for 5G.
The Prime Minister secured a majority of 80 at the election — meaning a defeat is highly unlikely.
The Government is expected to put forward legislation next month. A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office said: “We stand by the fact that it won’t hinder our ability to share intelligence with our Five Eyes partners.”