Jeremy Hunt says UK recognises Juan Guaidó as president of crisis-hit Venezuela
Britain has officially recognised the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president of the crisis-hit country after incumbent Nicolás Maduro refused to call an election by a deadline of last night.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Mr Guaidó would be accepted as the “interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held”.
But Labour insisted there should be no “outside influence” in the country - amid pressure on party leader Jeremy Corbyn to condemn developments in the socialist state.
Venezuela has been plunged into chaos amid an economic crisis which has led to hundreds of thousands of anti-Maduro protesters taking to the streets.
Mr Maduro was sworn in for a second term last month following disputed elections, leading to clashes between his supporters and those of Mr Guaidó, who is head of Venezuela's National Assembly.
European states, including the UK, gave Mr Maduro eight days to call fresh presidential elections - a deadline that expired last night.
Mr Hunt took to Twitter this morning to declare: “Nicolas Maduro has not called Presidential elections within 8 day limit we have set.
“So UK alongside European allies now recognises @jguaido as interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held. Let’s hope this takes us closer to ending humanitarian crisis.”
Spain, France and Sweden also followed suit, joining the USA, who recognised Mr Guaidó as president last week.
But a Labour spokesperson said: “We oppose outside interference in Venezuela, whether from the US or anywhere else: the future of Venezuela is a matter for Venezuelans.
“There needs to be a peaceful dialogue and a negotiated settlement to overcome the crisis in Venezuela.”
Mr Corbyn has been a long-standing supporter of the socialist regime in Venezuela and personally called Mr Maduro in 2014 to congratulate him and mourn the death of Tony Benn.
US president Donald Trump has said the use of military force in Venezuela remains “an option”.
The sitting Venezuelan president has also said he cannot rule out the possibility of civil war, after accusing Mr Guaidó of organising a coup.
He said of the EU deadline: “We don't accept ultimatums from anyone. It's like if I told the European Union: 'I give you seven days to recognise the Republic of Catalonia, and if you don't, we are going to take measures'.
“No, international politics can't be based on ultimatums. That was the era of empires and colonies.”