Sanchez says there will never be a Catalan independence referendum

Sanchez promises electricity bills will average out before end of the year

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has warned there will never be a Catalan independence referendum but a separatist leader shot back “give us time.”

Speaking in parliament after his meeting with the President of Catalonia, Pere Aragones, Sanchez said, “There will be no referendum, unless those who defend it manage to convince three-fifths of this House to modify Article 2 of the Constitution and then those changes are ratified. But I already anticipate that the PSOE will never accept it.”

However, the spokesman for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, a left-wing pro-independence party, Gabriel Rufian, quickly shot back at the PM, “Mr Sanchez, you say that there will be no referendum. You also said that there would be no pardons. Give us time.”

It was a clear dig at Sanchez who has been criticised by opposition parties for saying prior to his election that he would not grant pardons.

In an interview with La Sexta, Aragones said that he and Sanchez are yet to find a middle ground.

“The positions are very far apart. We defend independence and the government defends the unity of Spain,” he said.

Sanchez and Aragones met in Madrid on June 29 in their first official meeting since the pardon of nine Catalan separatist leaders who were jailed in 2019 for their roles in a failed independence referendum in 2017.

Aragones has pledged to call for a new independence referendum. He said the pardons are “an acknowledgment that the sentences were unfair” but added that it is now time for “amnesty and the right for self-determination.”

The government billed the meeting as an opportunity to resume dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona.

At his inauguration on May 23, Aragones promised to make “self-determination inevitable.”

Aragones, 38, won 74 votes in the 135-seat regional assembly. His Esquerra party and the centre-right Junts agreed to maintain their coalition after months of political deadlock following inconclusive vote in regional elections held in February 2021.

The nine separatists who have received pardons and were released on June 23 are: former vice president Oriol Junqueras, former councillors Raul Romeva, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Dolors Bassa; the former president of the Parliament Carme Forcadell; and Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart.

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.