France Will Not Support Catalan Independence

Protesters congratulate Spanish policemen and decorate police vans with Spanish and Catalan flags during a demonstration called by

Protesters congratulate Spanish policemen and decorate police vans with Spanish and Catalan flags during a demonstration called by"Societat Civil Catalana to support the unity of Spain

Such a move "will not go unanswered by the government", Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria warned on Monday, speaking on radio station COPE.

Mr Puigdemont is widely expected to declare independence in the regional parliament on Tuesday evening, nine days after the Catalan region voted for independence in a referendum dismissed by Madrid as illegal.

Spain Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has not ruled out removing the Catalan government and calling fresh regional elections.

Catalonia's secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont came under intense pressure to abandon plans to declare independence after hundreds of thousands of unionists took to the streets to protest against the split.

Benet Salellas of the separatist Catalan CUP party said: 'It's very clear to me that those who I represent won't accept any other scenario'. Separatist politicians say they will move ahead with an independence declaration despite Spain's objections.

"We have said yes to so many mediation options that have been proposed", he said.

Nathalie Loiseau, France's minister for European affairs, warned on Monday that "if there were a declaration of independence it would be unilateral and it wouldn't be recognised".

Spain's national government made it easier for firms to relocate on Friday, passing a law that removes some of the red tape required to shift a company's legal home.

He has also threatened to suspend the region's existing autonomous status.

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Although the Catalan government are of the opinion that over 90% of voters voted in favour of independence, opinion polls and analysts are of the the opinion that this may not be the case as only 43% of registered voters turned up for the referendum.

Madrid has expressed concerns that the regional parliament may vote for a unilateral independence from Spain.

In an indication of the deep divisions the referendum has caused, those who marched in Barcelona on Sunday in support of remaining part of Spain argued there was no reason they couldn't be both Catalan and Spanish.

"This situation can not be solved by violence, we have to find a solution through dialogue, this is also true when you consider the economic oint of view", he said.

The ideal would be not to have to take drastic measures.

That raises the prospect of Spanish police arresting Puigdemont and other separatist leaders if they declare independence.

Images of police firing rubber bullets, restraining elderly people and pulling voters from polling booths by the hair have shocked people around the world.

Mr Rajoy told Catalan leaders that there is still time to backtrack and avoid Madrid taking over the region's government.

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