UK should support Catalonia independence, says former diplomat

UK should support Catalonia independence, says former diplomat
Catalan independence from Spain is in Britain’s best interests, particularly as it seeks to withdraw from the European Union, according to former UK diplomat Charles Drace-Francis.

There are also a number of historic reasons for Britain to support the region’s bid for independence, he wrote in a letter to the Financial Times.

“It is in the permanent interests of the UK to prevent Iberia from being dominated by Madrid,” he stated.

Mr Drace-Francis argued that this was especially true “at a time when our relations with other European nations are so fraught.”

The letter also outlined several historic reasons for Britain to support Catalonia.

“If the Catalans had not revolted in February 1640, Portugal would not have been able to regain its independence — very few British people realise that Philip II of Spain gobbled up Portugal in 1580 and the Armada was launched mainly from Lisbon,” the retired diplomat wrote.

“Moreover, Catherine of Braganza would probably not have married Charles II and Britain would not have prospered as we did.

“Again, if the Catalans had not supported the Archduke Carlos in the War of the Spanish Succession, Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt would probably not have been able to seize Gibraltar — and more importantly hang on to it,” he continued.

“Although we abandoned the Catalans in 1713 and in 1938, they gave us much support in helping escaped British aviators in 1940-44 at a time when it took six weeks to build a bomber but six months to train a pilot.

“[They] also helped many others, notably Jews and artists, escape from the Nazis,” Mr Drace-Francis added.

Spain’s Prime Minister has urged Catalonia’s leader to “act sensibly” and renounce its independence bid in order to head off a threat by Madrid to impose direct rule.

Last week, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy warned the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont that he had until 10am on Thursday to abandon his secession plans and return the region to “constitutional order.”

Failure to do so, he said, would result in the Spanish Government taking the unprecedented step of invoking article 155 of the country’s post-Franco constitution and assuming control of the region.