Meddling Emmanuel Macron wades into Catalonia independence row

Emmanuel Macron, speaking at a press conference after an EU summit in Tallinn, Estonia, called for “serenity” on the issue which is causing huge divisions in Spain.

Catalonia has repeatedly defied orders from the central government in Madrid, saying they will go ahead with the referendum despite Madrid ruling the vote is unconstitutional and so illegal.

The French President appeared to back the central government in Madrid and the conservative administration led by the Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Mr Macron said: “I have confidence in his determination to defend the interests of all of Spain.”

He added he saw Spain as a “partner” of France and Mr Macron went on to praise his counterpart in Spain, saying: “He manages as well as possible Spain’s internal affairs.”

Mr Macron said: “My principle is simple, we cannot give lessons between member-states.

“Dialogue and serenity are always needed in a country’s political life.”

While the French President waded in on the issue the European Union has kept suspiciously quiet on the matter – but has admitted if Catalonia gains independence it will no longer be part of the bloc. Meanwhile, the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, called on the European Commission to open a mediation space for the Spanish and Catalan governments to talk.

Carles Puigdemont, Catalan president, said the EU was “turning its back” on Catalonia in the face of oppression from Madrid insisting he will make an “appeal for the European community” to get involved next week. 

Meanwhile, the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, called on the European Commission to open a mediation space for the Spanish and Catalan governments to talk.

She sent a letter to 27 mayors of EU capital cities on Thursday asking for support. 

EU member states have kept their lips sealed on the issue saying the referendum is an internal Spanish matter and that they respect the rule of law.

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “The UK strongly supports the rule of law and remains clear that questions related to the issue of Catalan independence are a matter for the Government and people of Spain, and should be resolved within the proper constitutional and legal channels.”