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.
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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 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
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.
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 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.