Catalonia is facing an unprecedented move by Madrid to seek a suspension of the region’s autonomy this morning, unless seperatist leader Carles Puigdemont abandons his bid for independence
Mr Puigdemont, who sparked Spains’s worst political crisis in decades by holding a banned independence referendum on October 1, has been ordered by Madrid to say by 10.00 am (9am BST) whether or not he is unilaterally declaring a split from Spain.
The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says it will trigger Article 155 of Spain’s constitution – a measure that would allow it to start imposing direct rule over semi-autonomous Catalonia – unless Mr Puigdemont backs down.
Catalonia is deeply divided over whether to break away from Spain as Puigdemont has repeatedly threatened since the referendum, but the wealthy northeastern region is proud of its autonomy in one of the Western world’s most decentralised nations.
There are fears that moving to impose direct rule could further aggravate a crisis that has worried investors and added to the woes of a European Union already grappling with Brexit.