UK Parliament MPs visit Catalan political leaders in prison
"We had a referendum in Scotland four years ago and I was doing what they were doing," SNP representative says
A delegation of UK Parliament MPs visited the Lledoners prison where seven Catalan political leaders are held awaiting trial on Tuesday morning. The group is also hoping this week to meet president Quim Torra, Parliament president Roger Torrent, and representatives of several Catalan parties.
The aim of the group, whose visit began at 11am on Tuesday morning, is to "get the attention" of British MPs and make them more aware of the the political situation in Catalonia, said Scottish MP Gavin Newlands to the Catalan News Agency, on Monday.
The only MP who actually met some jailed leaders was SNP's Ronnie Cowan, who recalled that exactly four years ago on Tuesday Scotland held an independence vote.
"We had a referendum in Scotland four years ago and I was doing what they were doing," he said to the Catalan News Agency after meeting the officials.
"The conversation has to go beyond Spain. Europe has to be looking at what's happening here"
Ronnie Cowan · UK Parliament SNP MP
Cowan, who defined the incarcerated leaders as "inspirational", called on the EU to get "involved in the dialogue" between Catalonia and Spain in order to find a way out of the issue.
"The conversation has to go beyond Spain. Europe has to be looking at what's happening here," he said. "They cannot walk away from the conversation," added Cowan.
"We never imagined that something like this could happen in the European Union," said Newlands on Monday, who called the imprisonments "cruel." Newlands is one of the three MPs in the Westminster parliament who are members of the Scottish National Party (SNP).
Newlands also said that if the jailings "had happened in any other place in the European Union," there would have been general condemnation from political leaders and institutions, but that the Catalan question needs to be put on the "radar" of European politicians.
Later on this week, the MPs were due to meet the Catalan foreign minister, Ernest Maragall, Roger Torrent, the vice president of the Parliament, Josep Costa, MP from the far left CUP party, Carles Riera, members of the Socialist party and the president of the Catalan National Assembly, Elisenda Paluzie.