Catalonia live updates: Spain’s Prime Minister Rajoy fires government, dissolves parliament and calls new elections in wake of independence vote

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has imposed direct rule on Catalonia after the region declared independence. Mr Rajoy has fired the Catalonia government, dissolved parliament and call new elections for the area that will take place on 21 December.

The vote in the regional parliament followed a tense week of last-ditch negotiations between Madrid and Barcelona.

Mr Rajoy said “we never wanted to come to this point,” adding that his aim is “to return [Catalonia] to normality and legality as soon as possible.”

The latest move will not be greeted well by many in Catalonia, with thousands having been out on the streets celebrating the declaration of independence.

For all the latest updates follow our liveblog below:

In a square outside the government palace in Barcelona, an announcer told the crowd that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is firing Catalonia’s regional government, dissolving its parliament and calling for a new regional election on 21 December
The news was greeted with loud jeers and whistles.
Still, the thousands who came to celebrate Catalonia’s independence declaration didn’t let the Spanish countermove disrupt the festive mood. A band took to the stage immediately after the announcement and the crowd once more began singing and dancing to the music.
The crowd in Sant Jaume Square shouted “we are not moving!”

Mr Rajoy said he said he was firing the head of the Catalan regional police, shutting down Catalonia’s foreign affairs department and dismissing its delegates in Brussels and Madrid.

He said “we never wanted to come to this point” and his aim is “to return [Catalonia] to normality and legality as soon as possible”.

Mr Rajoy was speaking after a special Cabinet meeting to discuss what measures to take in the wake of the Catalan parliament’s announcement of secession.
The firing of the regional leaders is likely to meet with fierce opposition in Catalonia, where thousands have been celebrating the independence declaration.
The Spanish government has been authorised to dismiss the regional government and curtail the Catalan parliament’s powers.

“We believe it is urgent to listen to Catalan citizens, to all of them, so that they can decide their future and nobody can act outside the law on their behalf,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said of the new elections.

Mr Rajoy says he is looking for the declaration made in Barcelona to be made illegal – and will dissolve the Catalan parliament.

Regional elections are to be scheduled for 21st December

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has declared that he has decided to fire the Catalan government, and that the region’s police chief is to lose his job too.

French President Emmanuel Macron has thrown his full support behind Mr Rajoy over the independence crisis taking place in Catalonia.
During a visit to French Guiana, Mr Macron told journalists he has always had “one interlocutor in Spain, it is Prime Minister Rajoy.”
Mr Macron added “there is a rule of law in Spain with constitutional rules. Mariano Rajoy wants these rules to be respected and he has my full support.”

Mr Rajoy’s conservative government is expected to dismiss the Catalan regional government and curtail the powers of its parliament in Barcelona. The Spanish government could also seize control of the Catalan police force and the region’s publicly-owned media outlets.

Mr Rajoy has indicated he wants to call an early election in the prosperous northeastern region as soon as central authorities can ensure an orderly return to legality.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is expected to announce the government’s response to the Catalan declaration of independence in about 20 minutes.

Spain’s Ibex 35 stock index has closed down 1.5 per cent following the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence from Spain.
Catalonia’s two main banks took major knocks, with Sabadell losing nearly 5 per cent and Caixabank, Spain’s third largest, dropping 3 per cent.
Catalonia accounts for a fifth of the Spanish economy, which is the fourth-largest in the 19-country eurozone.

The City Council in Catalonia’s Girona removed the Spanish flag from its office building ten minutes after the declaration of independence, the Caso Aisladonewspaper reported.
According to the El Pais, the Spanish flag has also been removed from the local authorities’ office in the city of Sabadell.

Here is our full piece on the UK’s stance on the Catalonia decision:

​The UK ‘will not recognise’ Catalan independence

Britain will not recognise the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence from Spain, Downing Street has said.

 

Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said the declaration 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.”

Spain’s constitutional court has started a review of the vote held in Catalonia’s parliament to declare independence from Spain.

The state prosecutor and other parties have three days to make allegations about the vote and declaration, the court said.

Germany has said it supports the Spanish government in its dispute with separatists in Catalonia and does not recognise an independence vote by the Catalan parliament.

 

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Berlin viewed the escalation of the situation with concern, noting that the unilateral declaration of independence violated the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Spain.

 

“The German government does not recognise such a declaration of independence,” he said, adding that Berlin supported the “clear position” of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in his bid to restore calm and order.

 

“We hope that all involved will use the remaining possibilities for dialogue and de-escalation,” he added.

The Spanish Ministry and Foreign Affairs has put out a new video – in English – putting across the Madrid view of the crisis. Clearly both sides are looking to create international support for the outcome they want.
4 hours ago:
Analysts expect tensions to rise in recent days – with the first move from Madrid over direct rule and the response to that providing an indicator of where things stand.
“Tensions are likely to rise significantly over the coming days,” Antonio Barroso of Teneo Intelligence political analysts.
“Demonstrators might try to prevent the police from removing Catalan ministers from their offices if the central government decides to do so. This increases the risk of violent clashes with the police”.

After that US statement, Nato has now said that the Catalan declaration is a “domestic matter” and should be resolved by Madrid.

The United States has called on Spain to stay “strong and united” saying that Catalonia is an “integral part of Spain” and that it supports Spanish government efforts to end the crisis.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the two Nato allies “cooperate closely to advance our shared security and economic priorities.”
It is likely that won’t be the last statement reflecting that feeling that is put out today.

The EU has called for calm after violence marred the day of the vote at the beginning of October. The Spanish government faced a barrage of criticism over the force it used.

Seventy Catalan deputies voted for independence, with 10 opposed and two blank ballot slips.

Rounds of applause broke out in the chamber as members of the parliament hugged and shook hands.

Opposition MPs had walked out of the chamber ahead of Friday’s vote in protest.

On Thursday Catalan president Carles Puigdemont had ruled out calling a snap election, thought to have been a potential way of defusing tension with the central government.

Mr Puigdemont said he had not received sufficient guarantees that Madrid would hold off on its attempts to take control of the region.

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