Citing unnamed officials in London and Washington, the Financial Times said the president was livid during the exchange last week after Mr Johnson’s government said Huawei could have a limited role in building Britain’s 5G mobile network despite warnings from the Trump administration.
The paper said one individual who was briefed on the contents of the call, which took place on Jan. 28, said Mr Trump was “apoplectic”. It cited another who said the call was “very difficult” and the president’s tone had taken British officials aback.
When asked about the FT report, Mr Johnson’s office said they had nothing to add to a statement released soon after the leaders’ call to discuss the Huawei decision.
“The prime minister underlined the importance of like-minded countries working together to diversify the market and break the dominance of a small number of companies,” that statement said. There was no immediate comment from the White House.
Washington argues that Huawei is a security risk because it is an extension of the Chinese state and helps Chinese intelligence to steal secrets – an allegation dismissed by the company.
The United States has applied strong pressure on countries to exclude the company, the world’s largest maker of telecoms equipment, from mobile networks. Britain said excluding Huawei altogether would have delayed 5G and cost consumers more.
Mr Trump has made no public comment about Britain’s Huawei decision, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played down any rift when he visited London last week.
Although Washington has long suggested it could limit intelligence sharing with countries that failed to exclude Huawei, Pompeo said the “Five Eyes” relationship was strong and would remain in place. The United States and Britain share intelligence through the “Five Eyes” group, which also includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Mr Johnson has also said the decision would not affect US-UK relations, and Mr Pompeo spoke optimistically about the prospects of a post-Brexit trade deal between the two countries.