Politicians, including the former prime minister Mariano Rajoy, have this week been appearing in court as part of the ongoing trial of Catalan separatist leaders in Madrid, and some questionable statements have been made. Twelve defendants stand accused of crimes including disobedience, misuse of public funds, sedition and rebellion for having held a referendum on independence for Catalonia without official central government permission. The prosecution is seeking prison terms ranging from seven to 25 years for their role in organising the unilateral secession attempt.

In court, Rajoy's former deputy, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, said: "If you want to hold a referendum, the Constitution needs to be reformed first. Authorising a referendum is something that the government never lent itself to, and never must."

What is ironic about this statement is that the constitution she was referring to was approved by over 90 per cent of the people of Spain in a referendum held on 6 December 1978. Rajoy, instead of looking at the examples set by other European democracies which do permit and have held referendums, such as the UK, turned to Germany. "Imagine if in a country like Germany, someone were allowed to simply do whatever they considered convenient, breaking up national sovereignty." Had Rajoy really been concerned about Spain, perhaps this sham of a court case would not be happening.