The British press has shown great interest in the Catalan process. While the Guardian correspondent Giles Tremlett referred readers back to the era of the Second Spanish Republic to explain the origins of the conflict between Catalonia and Spain, he also recognised the recent September 11 demonstrations as a leap forward for Catalan ambitions of sovereignty. Meanwhile, the Economist magazine also took note of recent developments in the sovereignty movement, and included an image of a lone-star independence flag in a collage highlighting the issuess on the political and economic agenda for 2013.
A year later, the magazine devoted an editorial to Catalonia under the title George Orwell gave to his chronicle of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. The article noted how former UK prime minister David Cameron’s authorisation of a referendum on Scottish independence had been welcomed in Catalonia, while it also criticised European Commission president José Manuel Durao Barroso’s opinion that allowing a referendum on independence in western Europe would be equivalent to the violent break-up seen among Balkan countries. Furthermore, the editorial supported the idea of new independent countries remaining part of the EU and stated: “With an imaginative government at the centre, Catalonia might well vote to stay with Spain. But the issue now is whether Mr Rajoy wants to treat voters as grown-ups who can be trusted to decide sensibly about their own political future.”
An internal issue
There is no doubt that Scottish independence has helped focus UK interest on the Catalan question. Yet, Tremlett insists that the conflict between the Catalan and Spanish governments is seen in the UK as an internal issue and a threat to stability that everyone hopes will be resolved satisfactorily. As a result, the correspondent believes that in the case of a positive result in the October 1 referendum and a declaration of independence, the UK authorities “would support the Spanish government”, not only in the sense of one state defending another, but also with Brexit meaning that “the UK government would be unwilling to make new enemies in the EU.”
- Catalonia Today 03-09-2017 Pàgina 25