Spain's Prime Minister vowed to defend the "sovereignty" of his country yesterday shooting down a bid by Catalonia to hold its own Scottish-style referendum on independence.
Rather than follow the lead of David Cameron and allow a vote on independence, Mariano Rajoy instead said legal action would be taken by his government to block the regional plebiscite.
Mr Rajoy announced that his conservative government had launched an appeal to Spain's Constitutional Court against the Catalan decision to hold an independence vote on November 7 calling the move "anti-democratic".
"It's false that the right to vote can be assigned unilaterally to one region about a matter that affects all Spaniards," Mr Rajoy said in a statement following an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday morning. "It's profoundly anti-democratic."
The appeal puts Madrid on a collision course with Catalonia following the signing by Artur Mas, the president of the Catalan government, of a decree to allow the "consultation" on breaking away from Spain.
Mr Mas had said the vote was legal because the result was non-binding. "Catalonia wants to express itself, it wants to be heard and it wants to vote," he said after approving the law passed by Catalan's parliament in Barcelona on Saturday.
But Mr Rajoy insisted the vote would be blocked.
"There is nothing and no one, no power nor institution, that can break this principle of sole sovereignty," he told reporters at the palace in Moncloa.
Catalonia's nationalists have urged the Spanish government to take inspiration from David Cameron's decision to recognise the Scottish referendum. But if the Catalan referendum is suspended by the Constitutional Court, an action that gives no recourse to appeal, Mr Mas will come under pressure from nationalists to defy Madrid and go ahead with the vote anyway.
Or he may decide to call early elections in the region and make them a plebiscite on independence.
Recent polls show an overwhelming majority in the north eastern region of 7.5 million want the right to vote on sovereignty but that support for an independent state wavers around 50 per cent.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)