Julia Hartley-Brewer: 'The West is sleepwalking into world domination from China'

TalkTV's Julia Hartley-Brewer has warned the West is "sleepwalking" into Chinese world domination by not seeing China as a big enough threat.

This comes as new curbs on Chinese influence could be considered, as ministers continue to face questions about allegations of espionage in Westminster.

The arrest of a parliamentary researcher under the Official Secrets Act has revived debates about the UK’s relationship with the Beijing, with some Tory MPs pushing Rishi Sunak to label China a “threat”.

Public confirmation of the arrest came only weeks after James Cleverly became the first Foreign Secretary in five years to visit China, amid efforts to develop more pragmatic ties with the country.

Mr Sunak on Monday insisted that Mr Cleverly raised the issue of Chinese interference in UK democratic institutions during his recent trip and that he had “reinforced this” at the G20 summit.

But MPs have questioned whether it took reports of the arrest in March to be made public for the Prime Minister to raise concerns.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden signalled that ministers could consider a tougher stance on China in the wake of the row.

He told MPs on Monday that there is a “strong case” for designating China in the “enhanced tier” of countries under the new National Security Act.

That would see China designated as “posing a potential risk to UK safety or interests”, with anyone working in the UK “at the direction” of Beijing required to place themselves on the “foreign influence registration scheme”.

Failure to do so could see an individual facing up to five years in prison.

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch suggested that designating China a threat would “escalate things” with Beijing.

She told reporters: “China is the second largest economy in the world, it’s heavily integrated in our economy as it is with many of our allies… We’re taking the same approach that those countries are taking.”

Ms Badenoch said the UK is taking certain measures, including making sure it has proper investment screening.

“We are taking action; what we’re not doing is giving endless running commentary on that because that would actually be more helpful to China than it would be to our security services,” she said.

But TalkTV's Julia Hartley-Brewer criticised Ms Badenoch for saying Britain "can’t afford" to cut ties with China, despite the spying row.

“These are not people we want to be friends with! It's a deliberate policy by China for world domination and we’re all sleepwalking into it in the West.”