Thursday, 16 March 2017

British MPs defend Catalonia’s democratic right to call a referendum

CNA / Sara Prim

London (CNA).- British MPs from three different parties presented an ‘Early Day Motion’ to the House of Commons calling on the Government “to declare its adherence” to the right of “democratically elected parliamentarians to hold a referendum”. The petition, signed by SNP MP George Kerevan, the Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) MP Mark Durkan and Plaid Cymru’s Hwyel Williams, “condemns the sentences” handed to former Catalan President, Artur Mas, former Vice President, Joana Ortega and former Catalan Minister for Education for allowing the 9-N symbolic vote on independence in 2014.  The signers also pointed out that “85% of Catalans support the option to vote democratically on Catalonia's constitutional future, as well as 83 of the 135 Members of the Parliament of Catalonia”. Last December, a group of 15 British MPs reported the “prosecution” of the Catalan Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell, for allowing a debate on independence in the Catalan Chamber and warned such prosecution might set “a dangerous precedent”.

The ‘Early Day Motion also “defends the rights of democratic parliaments to debate and approve political positions about any point proposed by the legitimate representatives of its citizens”, a principle which was not taken into account when the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) put the Catalan Parliament’s President on trial for allowing a debate on independence. Other bills aimed at carrying out the pro-independence process have also been suspended by the TC.

The petition also refers to the recent trial over the 9-N symbolic vote on independence, which took place in 2014 and registered a turnout of more than 2.3 million people. The main political leaders responsible for allowing the non-binding consultation to be held have been fined and banned from public office. The signers want the Government to condemn “the sentences handed to Catalan leader, Artur Mas” and other democratically elected representatives.

Thus, the motion calls on the Government “to declare its adherence to freedom of expression” and “the right of democratically elected parliamentarians to hold referenda consistent with the needs and wishes of their people and in their own good time”.

‘Early Day Motion’ reporting prosecution of Forcadell

Last December, a group of 15 MPs from the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Plaid Cymru and the Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) tabled an ‘Early Day Motion’ to the House of Commons expressing concern over the prosecution of the Catalan Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell. The document, promoted by SNP MP George Kerevan noted that Forcadell “allegedly violated Spanish law” for “allowing a parliamentary debate” on independence. A situation which “regardless of the constitutional legalities involved” the signers find “regrettable” and warned may set “a dangerous precedent”. Therefore, the motion called for the Spanish Government “to reconsider the prosecution” and find “a resolution to its disagreement with the Catalan Parliament through mutual dialogue”, which never happened.

APPG on Catalonia

Additional proof of the British Parliament’s interest in the Catalan process was last week’s creation of an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in the Chamber of Commons.  The group includes 20 MPs representing almost the entire political spectrum in the United Kingdom, from Conservatives to Labour, as well as Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Welsh Plaid Cymru. It is aimed at discussing and getting a better understanding of the state of Catalan politics and is due to meet at least twice a year. 

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  • SNP MP, George Kerevan, chairman of the APPG on Catalonia (by ACN)