Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is bringing the full weight of the state to bear to prevent Catalonia’s independence referendum.
His government has passed measures to tighten control of the autonomous region’s spending to stop it using state cash to pay for next month’s ballot which Madrid has declared illegal.
Addressing his conservative Popular Party in the Catalan capital of Barcelona on Friday, Rajoy said: “No state in the world can accept…the things that are being proposed here.
“We have told them: you are making a mistake and you will force us to do things we don’t want to do.
“There won’t be a referendum, there won’t be one!”
Armed police have raided print works and newspaper offices in Catalonia in search of voting papers and ballot boxes to be used in the referendum – to no avail.
And hundreds of Catalan mayors have been summoned for questioning over their support for the vote.
Spain’s Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro said a mechanism has been approved to allow central government to take over the funding of most essential public services in Catalonia.
Madrid is demanding guarantees from authorities in the wealthy region of northeastern Spain that public cash won’t be used to fund the referendum.
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is not backing down, however. He and his supporters are determined to go ahead with the ballot on October 1.
Puigdemont and Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau have written to Rajoy and Spain’s King Felipe, complaining of “an unprecedented repression offensive” but calling for political dialogue.