Yesterday I questioned the level of democracy in Spain with the central government determined to block the referendum in Catalonia. Madrid has threatened to arrest some 700 mayors as it continues to try and prevent Catalans from having a say in how they want to live their lives and what kind of future they want their children to be brought up in.

And yesterday, the situation slipped into a farce with armed police raiding several print works and newspaper offices in Catalonia in a hunt for voting papers, ballot boxes and leaflets to be used in the independence referendum which Madrid vehemently opposes. The searches, which have so far yielded nothing, are part of a concerted effort by the government to prevent the ballot from going ahead, amid fears that a vote to break away could trigger a political crisis even if Spain does not recognise the outcome.

On Friday, the government passed measures to tighten control over the region’s spending to stop it using state cash to pay for the ballot, and earlier this week Madrid summoned over 700 Catalan mayors for questioning over their support for the vote.

"They’ve lost the plot," said Albert Batet, mayor of the town of Valls and one of those summoned for questioning. "They are persecuting mayors, the press, printers. They are stretching the limits of democracy."

Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont, who faces criminal charges for organising the referendum, says he has over 6,000 ballot boxes ready to deploy next month, but their whereabouts are a secret. Toni Castejon, spokesman for the Catalan police force union, said it was like finding a needle in a haystack. "Right now, we have no idea where they are," he said. Nor does the PM, about anything.