UK DOES NOT RECOG­NISE CATA­LAN IN­DE­PEN­DENCE

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - GAVIN COR­DON PA re­porter news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

BRI­TAIN will not recog­nise the Cata­lan par­lia­ment’s dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence from Spain, Down­ing Street has said. The com­ments came hours be­fore sep­a­ratist leader Car­les Puigde­mont called on Cata­lans to peace­fully oppose Spain’s takeover.

He made the re­marks in a staged ap­pear­ance that ap­peared to con­vey he re­fuses to ac­cept his fir­ing, which was or­dered by cen­tral au­thor­i­ties.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s of­fi­cial spokesman said the dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence was based on a vote which had been de­clared il­le­gal and that the UK wanted to see the unity of Spain pre­served.

“The UK does not and will not recog­nise the uni­lat­eral dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence made by the Cata­lan re­gional par­lia­ment,” the spokesman said in a state­ment.

“It is based on a vote that was de­clared il­le­gal by the Span­ish courts. We con­tinue to want to see the rule of law up­held, the Span­ish con­sti­tu­tion re­spected and Span­ish unity pre­served.”

Shadow for­eign sec­re­tary Emily Thorn­berry said: “The way this dis­pute has been turned into a bi­nary choice be­tween in­de­pen­dence and di­rect rule is not go­ing to end this cri­sis, and it is not what the ma­jor­ity in Cat­alo­nia and Spain ac­tu­ally want.

“They want a sen­si­ble, po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue about find­ing a res­o­lu­tion – and for that to be done in a fair and demo­cratic way, in keep­ing with the rules and laws of the coun­try.”

Yes­ter­day Mr Puigde­mont said in a brief state­ment that ap­peared to be pre-recorded that “we will con­tinue work­ing to build a free coun­try”.

Spain’s La Sexta TV chan­nel si­mul­ta­ne­ously showed live footage of Mr Puigde­mont hav­ing lunch in a bar in cen­tral Girona, his home­town, oc­ca­sion­ally in­ter­rupted by res­i­dents who asked him to pose for self­ies.

Mr Puigde­mont’s ap­pear­ance on pub­lic re­gional TV3 broad­caster showed him speak­ing from a podium with the of­fi­cial em­blem of the Cata­lan re­gional gov­ern­ment. Be­hind him there were the Cata­lan and European Union flags.

Spain took for­mal di­rect con­trol of Cat­alo­nia yes­ter­day, dis­miss­ing the re­gion’s de­fi­ant sep­a­ratist gov­ern­ment a day after law­mak­ers passed a dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence for the pros­per­ous north­east­ern re­gion.

For­mer Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence had been caused by the “ap­palling be­hav­iour” of the Span­ish Gov­ern- ment who had pushed Cat­alo­nia “too far”.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Sec­re­tary Fiona Hys­lop called for di­a­logue to end the cri­sis.

“We un­der­stand and re­spect the po­si­tion of the Cata­lan gov­ern­ment. While Spain has the right to oppose in­de­pen­dence, the peo­ple of Cat­alo­nia must have the abil­ity to de­ter­mine their own fu­ture,” she said.

“Now, more than ever, the pri­or­ity of all those who con­sider them­selves friends and al­lies of Spain should be to en­cour­age a process of di­a­logue to find a way for­ward that re­spects democ­racy and the rule of law.

“The im­po­si­tion of di­rect rule can­not be the so­lu­tion and should be of con­cern to democrats ev­ery­where.”

Bri­tain joined other lead­ing in­ter­na­tional pow­ers in­clud­ing the US, Ger­many and the EU in re­fus­ing to recog­nise the out­come of the Cata­lan in­de­pen­dence vote.

Span­ish Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy sacked the Cata­lan gov­ern­ment as part of the emer­gency mea­sures fol­low­ing the re­gion’s dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence.

He said he was dis­solv­ing the Cata­lan par­lia­ment and call­ing for a new re­gional elec­tion on De­cem­ber 21.

PABLO BLAZQUEZ DOMINGUEZ

Demon­stra­tors hold Span­ish flags and plac­ards

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