BRITAIN isn’t the only country plunged into constitutional crisis through the judgement of its highest court.
On the same day that judges ruled that only the UK parliament can approve Brexit, Spain’s constitutional court took unprecedented steps aimed at curtailing Catalonia’s bid for independence.
Parliament has already banned any formal moves towards secession, especially steps paving the way for a referendum, and the court has now furnished Madrid with powers to punish any public officials who defy the ruling.
The initial legislation was supported only by the Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular, which is staunchly opposed to Catalan independence in all its guises, and is now validated by the court’s ruling.
Catalan politicians now risk suspension from public office if they continue to draw up blueprints for a future new state.
Catalan government spokesman Joan María Piqué said: “With the new ruling, the court can suspend elected politicians without hearing them,”
“This is unthinkable in any modern democracy in the world. You cannot sentence anyone without hearing and without evidence and without due process.”
The question now is whether pro-independence representatives, including the president of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell, will dare the court to take punitive action, and risk turning an already fraught situation into a full blown crisis that could further fan the flames of separation.