Spanish threat to deny cash for ‘illegal’ Catalan referendum
THE Spanish government yesterday dismissed Catalan leaders’ offer of talks on their independence referendum as “a trap”, and said it will intervene in Catalonia’s finances to ensure no public cash is used to fund the “illegal” vote.
Sixteen days from the planned referendum on Oct 1, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and other officials 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 Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, the Spanish government spokesman, who claimed Madrid had not received the letter. Mr Méndez de Vigo said the government thought it “a sarcasm” that Catalan leaders talk of dialogue when “they have only put on the table a referendum yes or yes.” He also criticised Barcelona mayor Ada Colau over her support for the vote, warning 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 referendum 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 Cristóbal Montoro, was to guarantee “that not even one euro” will go to pay for “something illegal”.