'People should be abiding by the rule of law' -- Theresa May thinks Catalonia should put up and shut up

Theresa MayGettyTheresa May.
  • Theresa May thinks Catalonia has no right to declare independence from Spain.
  • She said “people should be abiding by the rule of law.”
  • Spain could trigger the “nuclear option” to get Catalonia to back down.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has given her full backing to Spain in its protracted wrangle with Catalonia over the region’s independence bid.

Speaking during a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, May was unequivocal about the UK’s position. “We believe that people should be abiding by the rule of law and uphold the Spanish constitution,” she told journalists.

May spoke to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday morning after the nation said it will press ahead with plans to invoke Article 155 over Catalonia’s independence bid.

It allows Madrid to “take the necessary measures” if an autonomous region “seriously undermines the general interest of Spain.” Quite what this will mean in practice is unclear right now, but Spain could remove officials in the local administration and seize control of law enforcement.

Article 155 has never been invoked in the Spanish constitution’s 39-year history and has been dubbed Madrid’s “nuclear option” in the Catalonia crisis.

Spain’s decision comes after Carles Puigdemont, the president of Catalonia, failed to clarify whether the region had declared independence after a contentious referendum that saw the region’s population voted overwhelmingly to separate from Spain.

Spain says it will trigger Article 155 as early as this Saturday. “The government will do everything in its power to restore legality and constitutional order as soon as possible, to restore peaceful coexistence among citizens and to curb the economic deterioration that legal insecurity is causing in Catalonia,” Rajoy said on Thursday.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.