The Spanish response to the crisis in Catalonia has been telling.
Backed by the people of Spain, Madrid has been unwavering in its defence of the nation’s constitutional defences against separatism.
While footage of police acting in a heavy handed way on the day of the disputed recent referendum was dreadful, the reports of brutality were exaggerated. Overall, however, the national government has made clear it will not accept illegal referendums or declarations of independence.
After taking back control of the Catalan region, Madrid called this week’s elections. The outcome has been a narrow victory for parties that support independence, although they fell short of a majority of the vote.
In any event, Spain does not consider it a matter for the region alone. Like many countries, including the United States, the national territory is a matter for the nation.
Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has said he will talk to Catalan leaders if they respect the constitution. Contrast this with the UK approach, which accepts that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can leave. That generosity is not enough for nationalists here or in Scotland, who raise grievances over Brexit or other matters.
Meanwhile, Dublin is repeatedly speaking out against direct rule. Theresa May politely rebutted such talk during the week, but it is not enough. There needs to be a Spanish-style explicit defence of sovereignty.