SNP ministers give backing to referendum on Catalan independence

Cheryl Sanders
September 17, 2017

The officials vow that not one Euro will be spent on the "illegal" referendum, though with most mayors in the region backing the vote, Spain's go-to move has been to threaten to arrest hundreds of mayors, hardly a realistic way to stop a vote.

Madrid has rejected the unilateral vote planned for October 1, but separatist politicians launched the Yes campaign on Thursday as they press ahead with the vote despite a court ban and a criminal probe into three out of four Catalan mayors actively supporting it.

The mayors have been called in for questioning by prosecutors for agreeing to facilitate the vote locally, the report said.

Puigdemont and Barcelona's mayor Ada Colau have written to Rajoy and Spain's King Felipe, complaining of "an unprecedented repression offensive" but calling for political dialogue.

"We will not be intimidated".

Organisers said 35,000 people rallied in the northern city of Bilbao - a symbolic protest in a region still marked by decades of violence once waged by armed separatist group ETA, and where the desire for independence remains strong.

According to July poll, only 41 percent of Catalans favor independence but almost 70 want a vote.

Spain's Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro said a mechanism has been approved to allow central government to take over the funding of most essential public services in Catalonia. It is unclear what arrangement was reached.

Waving the red, blue and yellow Estelada flag used by those who want independence in Catalonia, and red, white and green Basque regional flags, protesters marched under threatening skies.

In response, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, said, "I say this both calmly and firmly: there will be no referendum, it won't happen".

Police have also raided a printing house and several other premises in search of ballot papers and boxes as well as other materials to be used for the referendum.

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