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President of Catalonia to announce independence today


Leaders of Catalonia are expected to announce independence during a meeting of the regional parliament on Tuesday evening, the first since the referendum vote to secede from Spain.

Regional president Carles Puigdemont was said to be “finalising” the declaration this morning, La Vanguardia reported, ahead of the 6pm meeting.

The Madrid government has warned Mr Puigdemont could face jail if he announces a move toward secession. A spokesman for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he planned to use any legal means necessary to oppose such a declaration.

Spain’s constitutional court had declared the referendum unlawful, and police have been accused of using excessive force to prevent voters casting their ballots.

The Catalan government said 90 per cent of the 2.26 million people who voted chose independence. Turnout was 42.3 per cent.

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamarí­a said on Monday: “I’m calling on the sensible people in the Catalan government. Don’t jump off the edge because you’ll take the people with you.”

“If there is a unilateral declaration of independence there will be decisions made to restore law and democracy,” she told COPE radio station.

Many moderate Spaniards, including in Catalonia, oppose a breakaway. Mr Rajoy has warned he could impose direct rule in response to an independence declaration.

Losing Catalonia, which has its own language and culture, would deprive Spain of a fifth of its economic output and more than a quarter of exports.

However, three more Catalonia-based companies joined a business exodus from the region that has gathered steam since the 1 October referendum.

Property group Inmobiliaria Colonial and infrastructure firm Abertis both decided to relocate their head offices to Madrid and telecoms firm Cellnex said it would do the same for as long as political uncertainty continued.

Publishing house Grupo Planeta said it would move its registered office from Barcelona to Madrid if the Catalan parliament unilaterally declared independence.


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