Boris Johnson backs Spain in row over Catalonia referendum violence
2 min read
Boris Johnson has appeared to side with the Spanish government following police violence during yesterday's independence referendum in Catalonia.
The Foreign Secretary said the authorities had the right to "uphold the law" in the country.
Police officers yesterday prevented people from voting, and seized ballot papers and boxes at polling stations in a bid to bring an end to the independence vote, which was declared illegal by the country's constitutional court.
Tactics included the use of batons and rubber bullets in suppressing protestors in the region’s largest city of Barcelona, with Catalan officials claiming more than 700 people have been injured so far.
The Foreign Secretary last night tweeted that the issue was a matter for Spain, but called on the country’s Prime Minister to bring an end to state violence.
"I urge Theresa May to appeal directly to Rajoy to end police violence in Catalonia & find political solution to this constitutional crisis," he said.
He added: “Spain is a close ally and a good friend, whose strength and unity matters to the UK."
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox also condemned the violence in the region, but said the Madrid government has a "right to uphold the law".
"It's a matter for the government of Spain,” he said.
"They view the referendum as being illegal and they have a right to uphold the law.
"But, of course, counterbalanced against that is the right to self-determination of peoples and how they deal with that is a matter for them.
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said Mr Johnson should make it clear to the Spanish ambassador that the police response was "unacceptable".
"Police in a democracy should never drag people violently out of polling stations, whatever the arguments for or against holding a referendum,” he said.
Their comments follow those of Jeremy Corbyn yesterday who branded the violence “shocking”, while Nicola Sturgeon said the images were “concerning”, while urging the Spanish authorities to let citizens “vote peacefully”.
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband also tweeted condemning the Spanish authorities.
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