The Spanish Constitutional Court last night suspended a referendum law that was approved on Wednesday by the Catalan parliament, blocking the way for an vote on independence from Spain. The law will be suspended while judges consider arguments that the vote breaches the country's constitution.
Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, vowed earlier on Thursday to “stop at nothing” to prevent Catalonia’s independence referendum, as his attorney general prepared to prosecute Catalan leaders.
In a blistering address, Mr Rajoy accused Catalonia's parliament of an “intolerable act of disobedience” in passing its referendum law, insisting it had violated the Spanish constitution.
“The consultation is not going to happen in any case,” he said. “We are defending national sovereignty, the principle of legality and the institutions. We are defending the rights of all citizens, above all of the Catalans.”
The warning came after Catalonia’s president, Carles Puigdemont, officially called the independence referendum for October 1, an act he declared to be “for liberty and democracy”. After a day of tense debate, the Catalan parliament passed the referendum law late on Wednesday night, despite furious complaints from opponents in the chamber that it was engaged in a criminal act.