Editorial: Spaniards protest to show that they will not let their nation splinter
In Spain at the weekend another major rally was held against the splitting of the nation.
Almost 200,000 people gathered in Madrid to demonstrate against an amnesty law for Catalan breakaway leaders to enable Spain’s prime minister to stay in office after a closely divided summer election result.
The socialist Pedro Sánchez got fewer votes than conservative People’s party, but needed the support of the main Catalan independence parties. He got this by offering an amnesty to the Catalan leaders behind an illegal bid to secede from Spain in 2017.
It is the second time that Spaniards have taken to the streets of their capital city to protest against this cynical manoeuvre, which on Friday resulted in Mr Sánchez being confirmed as premier.
It is striking first of all that making such a major concession to Catalan separatists enrages people across Spain, many of them young. TV reports have shown these Spanish patriots accusing Mr Sánchez of being “a traitor”. It is hard to envisage even the splintering of the UK bringing people out on to the streets of England.
It is possible that Keir Starmer will only be able to form a Labour government within the next 14 months by relying on the assent of Scottish nationalist MPs. If so, they will be looking for much more than an amnesty. Spain, however, is not as soft as the UK: it does not think separatism is merely a matter for the region, but rather one for the entire nation. While the UK says Scotland and Northern Ireland can go on a 50% plus one vote, Spain, US, France, Germany etc would never be so foolish as to relinquish a say.
In NI, however, one key say is reserved to London: the say on whether to call a border poll. Nationalists and their friends in the media, academic, legal, etc worlds will do what they can to force London’s hand. This must not happen via idiotic concessions such as setting out criteria for a poll.