European allies recognise Juan Guiado as Venezuelan president

  • Video report by ITV News International Affairs Editor, Rageh Omaar

Britain and other European allies have recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Hunt said the move followed the failure of Nicolas Maduro to call new presidential elections after being set a deadline to do so.

"Nicolas Maduro has not called presidential elections within eight day limit we have set," Mr Hunt said.

Juan Guaido is aiming to replace Nicolas Maduro as president. Credit: PA

"So UK alongside European allies now recognises Juan Guaido as interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held.

"Let's hope this takes us closer to ending humanitarian crisis."

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was another leading political figure to endorse Guaido as interim president, while also urging him to call an election in the near future.

Spain has strong links to Venezuela historically, culturally and economically, meaning their government's endorsement of Guaido will be a significant blow to Maduro.

Sanchez said: "We are working for the return of full democracy in Venezuela: human rights, elections and no more political prisoners."

  • ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports from Caracas in a city and country which increasingly has two centres of power, and where President Nicolas Maduro is portraying himself as the victim of Western aggression despite his country being in economic turmoil

Theresa May spoke by phone with her Spanish counterpart Sanchez on Sunday about the situation in Venezuela, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told a media briefing in Westminster.

The PM's spokesman said: "Venezuelan people deserve a better future. They have suffered enough and the Maduro regime must end. It is time for free and fair elections.

"As the Foreign Secretary said this morning, those who continue to violate the human rights of ordinary Venezuelans under an illegitimate regime will be called to account.

"We are looking at what further steps we can take to ensure peace and democracy in Venezuela, including through sanctions."

The words of the European politicians were followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirming her support for Guaido.

Pedro Sanchez is backing Guaido. Credit: PA

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in an interview that the election that brought Maduro to power was neither free or fair.

Wallstrom echoed Hunt and Sanchez in their calls for an election to take place as soon as possible, she said: "Venezuela is a country in disrepair. There is a lack of food and medicines, it's (facing) inflation and mass demonstrations."

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was an additional significant voice to say his country was backing Guaido. Emmanuel Macron then repeated this later on Monday.

Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Lithuania admitted they share the same views as their allies.

Nicolas Moduro says he is staying as president. Credit: PA

Despite the eternal pressure on Maduro, he maintains he will continue as president and also accused the United States of preparing a coup.