Madrid will cut funds if Cata­lan poll goes ahead

Irish Independent - - WORLD NEWS - Han­nah Strange

THE Span­ish gov­ern­ment has dis­missed Cata­lan lead­ers’ of­fer of talks on their in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum as “a trap”.

Madrid has said it will in­ter­vene in Cat­alo­nia’s fi­nances to en­sure that no pub­lic money is used to fund what it says is an “il­le­gal” vote.

Six­teen days away from the planned Oc­to­ber 1 ref­er­en­dum, Cata­lan president Car­les Puigde­mont and other of­fi­cials have re­leased a let­ter ap­peal­ing for an agree­ment on a vote and is­su­ing “a new call to di­a­logue” with­out pre­con­di­tions.

In the let­ter, ad­dressed to Span­ish prime min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy and King Felipe VI, the lead­ers said they were seek­ing talks “to lis­ten to the voice of the cit­i­zens”.

But the over­ture was re­buffed by the Span­ish gov­ern­ment, which claimed that Madrid had not even re­ceived the let­ter.

Its spokesman said the gov­ern­ment thought it “a sar­casm” that Cata­lan lead­ers spoke of di­a­logue when “they have only put on the ta­ble a ref­er­en­dum yes or yes”.

He also crit­i­cised Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Co­lau, over her sup­port for the vote and warned that she was “ei­ther with the law or against it”.

Min­is­ters also gave Mr Puigde­mont an ul­ti­ma­tum – sign an agree­ment that pub­lic funds will not be di­verted for the poll within 48 hours or the gov­ern­ment will seize con­trol of that part of the Cata­lan bud­get des­tined for ser­vices and salaries.

This, said fi­nance min­is­ter Cris­to­bal Mon­toro, was to en­sure “not even one euro” will go to pay for “some­thing il­le­gal”.

‘Not even one euro’ will go to­wards this ‘il­le­gal vote’

De­mon­stra­tors shout and wave Cata­lan sep­a­ratist flags as civil guards leave a print­ing fa­cil­ity af­ter raid­ing it in search of bal­lot pa­pers in Sant Feliu de Llo­bre­gat, out­side Barcelona

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