Madrid urged to follow UK to break Catalan indyref deadlock

Former Catalan president Artur Mas has urged Spain to seek a similar deal on an independence referendum to the one agreed by the UK government during an appearance in Scotland.
Former president Artur Mas and Clara Ponsati. Picture: Ian Georgeson.Former president Artur Mas and Clara Ponsati. Picture: Ian Georgeson.
Former president Artur Mas and Clara Ponsati. Picture: Ian Georgeson.

Speaking at an event organised by Edinburgh University students, he said the support from Scotland for Catalonia’s right to self-determination in its “harshest days” would not be forgotten.

He said many Catalans had been “ashamed” by the response from other European countries to the stand-off since direct rule was imposed from Madrid in response to the region’s declaration of independence last year.

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But Mr Mas, who was president of Catalonia from 2010 to 2015, said a majority of its people were still in favour of remaining in the EU.

“We are asking for an agreement to let Catalans vote on their political future, like in Scotland. It should not be difficult to sit down at the table, to start talks, and agree the terms of a consultation or referendum. That is our goal and aspiration.

“It’s something that you know very well as that was also the challenge in Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans staged a demonstration in Barcelona at the weekend to demand the release of separatist politicians and activists who were detained for their role in October’s independence referendum.

Former Catalan education minister Clara Ponsati, a professor at St Andrews University who is fighting charges of rebellion for her support for the independence cause, was in the front row of the audience to hear Mr Mas speak.

He said: “I want to thank the Scottish people and the Scottish political representatives who have given their support in the harshest moments we have lived in Catalonia in the last few years.

“In these moments it’s very relevant and especially important to see that there are people in Europe and in the world who understand what is really happening (in Catalonia) and give their support.

“It’s something we’re not going to forget in the future.