Wales politics

Catalonia: Plaid Cymru MP criticises EU 'silence'

A man draped in a Catalan independence flag protests outside the European Commission in Brussels, 2 October Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hywel Williams said the response from the EU had been "wholly wanting"

A Plaid Cymru MP has accused the European Union of "silence" on the crisis in Catalonia following a vote for independence from Spain.

Hywel Williams told a Westminster debate he witnessed "queues of people trying to vote and being beaten".

Foreign Office Minister Mark Field said the UK government supported a "strong and unified" Spain.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is facing pressure to drop plans to pursue independence when he speaks later.

Police used batons and fired rubber bullets in the 1 October vote, which had been declared illegal by Spain's constitutional court.

Mr Williams said: "I believe a line has been crossed - on how one EU member state believes it is proper to treat its citizens and that attitude may be dangerously contagious."

The Arfon MP said police behaviour had been "violent, oppressive and wholly disproportionate".

Image caption Hywel Williams, pictured at an earlier session of Parliament, said queues of people trying to vote were 'beaten'

Speaking at a Westminster hall debate on Tuesday, Mr Williams said the response from governments and the European Union was "wholly wanting".

Mr Field, who said he had a holiday home on the Balearic island of Mallorca, told MPs: "We must defend the important principle brought to question, but we must also remember that Spain is a sovereign nation."

He said: "Democracy is about more than just about voting - every democracy has its own rules, laws and procedures setting out both rights and responsibilities.

"The UK and EU's ability to promote fair and free societies elsewhere in the world would be significantly affected if we compromised those principles," he said, adding; "This government continues to support a strong and unified Spain."

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