Catalan Parliament speaker at Westminster: ‘We are under threat, but we will not give up’
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia is re-constituted in the UK Parliament, with MPs and Lords from most parties, including Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem
Catalan Parliament president, Carme Forcadell, spoke at the UK Parliament in defense of the plans of the Catalan government to hold a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia despite the actions by the Spanish government to stop it. The pro-independence leader took part in the constitutive session of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia in Westminster this Monday, where she said that “we are aware that we are under threat if we fulfill our functions, but this will not make us give up on our commitment with the Catalan citizens, or stop defending our rights and freedoms”.
Forcadell referred to the Catalan government’s determination to hold a plebiscite as a “battle for democracy”. The Catalan chamber speaker also spoke about historical memory, corruption and the so-called ‘Operation Catalonia’, which refers to the alleged campaign orchestrated jointly by the Spanish executive and Spanish police to investigate pro-independence Catalan leaders in order to discredit the whole movement.
The Welsh nationalist MP Hywel Williams was appointed as the president of this discussion body, with members from most of the parties in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, including the Conservatives (represented by the Baroness Hooper, Andrew Rosindell and Pauline Latham), Labour (with Lord Berkeley), Liberal Democrats (Baroness Garden of Frognal), the Welsh Plaid Cymru (Hywel Williams and Lord Wigley) and the Scottish National Party (Douglas Chapman, Ronnie Cowan and Christopher Stephens).
"I see no justification for the actions of the Spanish government in trying to press for prosecution of Forcadell"
Baroness Hooper · Member of the UK House of Lords
“I think democracy rules 100% at the time, and we need to get to a position where the Spanish government needs to respect the views of the people of Catalonia and make sure that whether they decide to become independent or not is up to them, but they should have the right to decide their own future,” said Scottish pro-independence MP Douglas Chapman on the current situation. “I see no justification for the actions of the Spanish government in trying to press for prosecution, it doesn’t seem to me that it was in any way a criminal activity,” added the tory Baroness Hooper referring to the judicial case open against Forcadell.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia was launched for the first time this year on March 14 and was constituted today for a second time after ceasing its activity because of the UK general election on June 8. Its president in the first period was the Scottish National Party MP George Kerevan, but he lost his seat in the vote, so he cannot continue in this position. Nevertheless, he met Forcadell earlier this Monday, before the Catalan representative spoke with her counterpart in the House of Commons at Westminster, John Bercow.
Among its main initiatives in the last legislature, the British MPs sent a letter to the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, last May in which they expressed their “concern” about the judicial prosecution of the Catalan parliament speaker, Carme Forcadell. The pro-independence politician is accused of allowing two debates on a referendum and a constituent process in the Catalan chamber.
The representatives told Rajoy that opening a case against Forcadell for this reason is “a clear breach of the freedom of speech, a fundamental right”. Moreover, the letter also highlighted that the prosecution “is not only an unprecedented fact in the recent post-1945 history of Western Europe, but it is also against the democratic principles included in the European Council, of which Spain is a member”.
The group also organized a debate called ‘A democratic solution for Catalonia’ last April alongside the English branch of the ANC, a Catalan pro-independence organization. Around 150 people attended the session and its speakers defended a referendum as the best outcome for the country's current political situation.