Today’s PMQs contained an example of an almost perfect backbench question. Damian Green, who was Theresa May’s number two, asked if the aim was to reduce Huawei’s share of the 5G network from 35 per cent, and when it would hit zero per cent. Boris Johnson replied that the aim was to reduce Huawei’s share but he conspicuously failed to answer when it would hit zero.
Green’s question, followed up by David Davis, shows that concern over the Huawei decision has not abated on the Tory benches. Boris Johnson’s commitment to reduce Huawei’s share of the network will be enough for some. But I suspect that until the Government set a date for reducing the share to zero, which they’ll be reluctant to do, Tory unhappiness over the decision will continue.
Towards the end of the session, there was a powerful question from the SDLP’s Colum Eastwood about the murder of Paul Quinn and the erroneous allegation by Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy—now Northern Ireland’s finance minister—that Quinn had been involved in criminality.
Johnson – either out of a desire to avoid upsetting Sinn Fein, or because this has become an issue in the Irish election or because he was unaware of the case – didn’t engage with the question. Eastwood’s contribution, though, was a reminder of the moral compromises involved in the peace process in Northern Ireland. It also exposed the short-sightedness of the Blair government’s failure to support the moderate parties in Northern Ireland at various crunch moments.