There is no doubt that Catalunya could be a successful state if independent from Spain. 16% of Spanish people live in Catalunya. It represents 19% of GDP, 25.6% of exports and 20.7% of foreign investment. It’s the wealthiest part of Spain. And the best football team in the world. But none of this means that it should become independent. On balance, I don’t think so.
The Catalunya regional government has declared that Catalunya is now an independent country, following an illegal referendum, which turned violent and was widely ignored by those who disapproved of it. Huge crowds are out on the streets as I type, hailing the birth of their sparkling new state. It would be easy to be influenced by the joyous celebrations and think independence is a de facto reality and inevitable. But of course it is no such thing.
The Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy has instigated a constitutional Exocet today, and declared direct rule, abolishing the Catalonian regional Govt, sacking Catalonian Prime Minister Charles Puigdemont and calling new elections for Dec 21st. The head of Catalonian Police Chief has also been sacked. This is new territory, not only for modern Spain but for the European Union. The EU and EU countries are backing the Spanish Government, as they were bound to. The Spanish Senate is backing Prime Minister Rajoy, as it has to.
We can have no idea where all this is going. Spain in not like Britain. It doesn’t have our stable history. It’s less than 70 years since Franco took power by brute force, and held it for many decades. Millions died. I cannot see any option for the UK Govt other than to back Spain. Same applies to other EU countries and the EU itself. Looks an unbeatable coalition. But who can be certain. Just hope it doesn’t turn violent. All we can do is hope. But my confidence is nothing like as buoyant as my hopes. Next few days are going to be very interesting.