The UK is maintaining pressure on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to agree “free and fair elections” as protests against his regime continue for a seventh day.
Amid beefed-up consular efforts to help Britons flee the crisis, which has so far left around 100 dead, Prime Minister David Cameron led calls for reform.
Any attempt to repress mounting public demonstrations – continuing in defiance of a centrally-imposed curfew – would “end badly”, he told Mr Mubarak n a telephone call.
The president swore in a new cabinet on Monday but the concession is unlikely to satisfy the tens of thousands who have taken to the streets in cities across Egypt.
Organisers have called for a million people to join protest rallies on Tuesday to mark a week of open dissent and increase pressure on Mr Mubarak to stand down.
The UK Government, while warning against the possibility of Egypt falling into the hands of extremists, fell short of backing demands for the president to quit.
Arriving for EU talks in Brussels, Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “We don’t want Egypt to fall into the hands of extremists.
“That is why we want an orderly transition to free and fair elections, and greater freedom and democracy in Egypt. Then I think we need to rely on the good sense of the people of Egypt: who they elect is their concern.”
MPs were briefed on the latest developments in a statement by foreign office minister Alistair Burt in the Commons.
He played down the significance of barricades being erected at some hotels in Red Sea resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh, where around two thirds of the 30,000 Britons in the country are.