Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Leon Neal/Getty Staff, Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Contributor

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is inching toward a decision that could profoundly harm the "special relationship" between Britain and the United States under President Trump.

Driving the news: Johnson is expected to decide, as soon as this week, whether to defy Trump's request that he ban Chinese technology giant Huawei from the U.K.'s 5G wireless network.

  • Johnson's decision comes after repeated private and public warnings from Trump and senior administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser Robert O'Brien, U.S. officials tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: "This is a highly consequential decision that the British prime minister's going to be making," a senior Trump administration official told me in a phone interview on Saturday.

  • "Not only in terms of their relationship with the United States, but first and foremost for their own citizens," added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive diplomacy still happening across the Atlantic.
  • "People are going to be a bit shaken by the U.K.'s judgment if they make this decision."

Why it matters: The Huawei debate — which may seem abstract to many Americans — has become one of the most urgent foreign policy priorities of the Trump administration and one of the more serious tests of the U.S.-U.K. relationship in recent times.

  • It could ultimately lead to the U.S. government curtailing the intelligence it shares with its closest ally, U.S. officials told Axios.
  • Some British officials have countered that, with severe restrictions, it's possible to safely include Huawei equipment in a 5G network.

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been a leading voice, globally, in warning about the risks of allowing the Chinese company to embed itself in western mobile networks.

  • Turnbull told me in a phone interview on Saturday that he shared his assessment of Huawei with the Trump administration in early 2017. (Australia is part of America's most important intelligence-sharing alliance, the "Five Eyes.")
  • Turnbull said he spent a lot of time personally investigating the subject in consultation with Five Eyes partners.
  • "To be honest with you, I'm surprised that the U.K. is taking the approach it is," Turnbull said. "The ability to mitigate the risk is very, very questionable."

The big picture: The battle over Huawei is what a "tech Cold War" begins to look like.

  • In recent remarks at the the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, Trump's deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger said: "Can you imagine a situation where, in the '80s, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher have a conversation and they say, 'You know, I think we should have the KGB come and build all of our telecommunications and computer network systems because they're offering a great discount.'"

Between the lines: 5G mobile networks will allow humans and machines to communicate at unfathomable speeds. When people talk about the Internet of Things, they are referring to a world in which everything from driverless cars to home appliances to hospital equipment will be connected and constantly exchanging data.

  • "When you're talking about 5G, everything will become critical infrastructure," said the senior Trump official.
  • Some countries, including the U.S. and Australia, have banned Huawei from providing equipment for 5G. Intelligence and national security analysts in these countries have determined that once Chinese gear is embedded in the network, there is no way of guaranteeing that the Chinese state won't use it for nefarious purposes.
  • Top officials in the Five Eyes have privately discussed nightmare scenarios ranging from the Chinese government forcing Huawei to conduct mass-scale spying on foreign citizens to more extreme scenarios.
  • Some worry that China, in a future conflict with a Western country, could use its embedded Huawei gear to disrupt critical infrastructure.

The other side: Senior government officials inside the U.K. and Germany have claimed it's possible to safely include Huawei in mobile networks, so long as it is restricted and kept away from "core" elements of the network. Senior Trump administration officials, and others like Turnbull, say this is not possible.

  • British and German officials also say they can't afford to exclude Huawei. They say that doing so would leave their countries with unaffordable alternatives and would leave them behind in the global technology race.
  • Axios' China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, who attended the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, reported that business leaders aren't buying U.S. rhetoric about Huawei being dangerous (or at least, this is their public line). And, generally speaking, they aren't fans of the U.S.-China battle over Huawei.

What's next: The senior Trump administration official said allies should work with the U.S. to quickly develop affordable alternatives to Huawei.

  • One option is for the U.S. government to provide Huawei's competitors with subsidies — the same tactic the Chinese have used to give Huawei an unfair advantage over its competitors.
  • But the Trump official said there are other, more market-friendly ways, such as tax breaks, that the U.S. government can use to incentivize trusted tech companies.

The bottom line: The Trump official said the administration is still hopeful that Johnson and Angela Merkel might change their minds and ban Huawei. Merkel, in particular, is under pressure from some of her colleagues to block Huawei from Germany's 5G network.

  • "Yogi Berra, it ain't over till it's over," the senior Trump administration official said.
  • Pompeo framed the choice starkly in a Sunday tweet: "The UK has a momentous decision ahead on 5G. British MP Tom Tugendhat gets it right: 'The truth is that only nations able to protect their data will be sovereign.'"

Go deeper:

Go deeper

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.

The Democrats' debt dilemma

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats find themselves in a political and potentially catastrophic economic quagmire as Republicans stand firm on denying them any help in raising the federal debt ceiling.

Why it matters: The Democrats are technically right — the debt comes, in part, from past spending by President Trump and his predecessors, not only President Biden's new big-ticket programs. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is saddling them with the public relations challenge of making that distinction during next year's crucial midterms.

Pelosi's endgame

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears at a news conference on Tuesday. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) began her infrastructure endgame Tuesday, pressuring centrists to ultimately support as much social spending as possible while pleading with progressives to pass the roads-and-bridges package preceding it.

Why it matters: Neither group can achieve what it wants without the other, their ultimatums be damned. The leaders of both acknowledged the speaker's unique gift for pulling off a deal after separate conversations with Democratic leaders.