MADRID SCORNS CATALAN LEADER’S INDEPENDENCE STATEMENT

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The Spanish government has rejected a statement of independence signed by Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and dismissed calls for mediation. Spain’s deputy prime minister described Mr Puigdemont as someone “who does not know where he is, where he’s going”.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is holding an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the government’s next steps. Mr Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence on Tuesday, but halted implementation to allow negotiations.

There had been speculation that the Catalan President might declare independence and put the move into effect, plunging Spain into an even deeper political crisis.