We’re bombing, you have to leave
Sorry, you are on the wrong side today. Libya has a new government, don’t you know? You will be going home now. By the way, watch your step, we’re bombing the crap out of you.
“Britain recognises Libyan rebels and expels Gaddafi's London embassy staff
Foreign secretary William Hague declares Libya's national transitional council the country's 'sole governmental authority'
Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 27 July 2011 13.57 BST
Britain is expelling the Libyan chargé d'affaires and all eight remaining Libyan embassy staff in London after David Cameron and William Hague ruled that Libya's national transitional council (NTC) was now the "sole governmental authority" in the country.
The chargé was summoned to a meeting at the Foreign Office, where he was given three days to leave Britain.
Other diplomats at the Libyan People's Bureau, in Knightsbridge – which has been under heavy police guard since the launch of the military campaign in March – have been told to leave over the course of the summer.
Hague announced the expulsions at a Foreign Office press conference on Wednesday as he invited the NTC to nominate an ambassador and other diplomats to take over the Libyan mission.
The foreign secretary said: "The prime minister and I have decided that the United Kingdom recognises and will deal with the national transitional council as the sole governmental authority in Libya.
"This decision reflects the national transitional council's increasing legitimacy, competence and success in reaching out to Libyans across the country.
"Through its actions, the national transitional council has shown its commitment to a more open and democratic Libya, something that it is working to achieve in an inclusive political process. This is in stark contrast to Gaddafi, whose brutality against the Libyan people has stripped him of all legitimacy."
Hague said Britain – which has temporarily closed its embassy in Tripoli – now runs its largest diplomatic mission in north Africa after Cairo in the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi. This will be designated as an embassy if the NTC requests an upgrade.
The decision to recognise the NTC as sole governmental authority led to the unfreezing of £91m in UK assets belonging to the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, a Libyan oil firm under the NTC's control.
Foreign Office sources said the assets were unfrozen after the NTC gave assurances that the funds would be used to purchase fuel and not arms, which would be illegal under UN security council resolutions.
Hague also announced at his press conference that:
• The appearance on Libyan television of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, showed it had been a mistake by the Scottish justice minister to release him in 2009.
• Britain only decided to recognise the NTC after it was certain that Libyan students in Britain, who are funded by their embassy, would continue to be supported.
• No deadline has been set for the military campaign against the Gaddafi regime. British military chiefs have advised ministers they can continue with the bombing indefinitely.”
A little late.