Rising tension between the YES and NO camps; accusations that the NO campaign are waging a ‘fear’ campaign; claims that the anti-independence camp are being too negative; insistence by the First Minister that continued, seamless EU membership is certain and that Barroso and Van Rompuy are wrong to claim otherwise; grandiose claims of a rich and prosperous future after independence…..all of these statements sound completely familiar, but this is not Scotland, it is Catalonia in Southern Spain.

This was the finding of Scottish Conservative Euro MP Struan Stevenson following a whirlwind visit to Barcelona this week to support the Euro election campaign of Alejo Vidal Quadras and his pro-unionist, centre-right VOX Party. Speaking on his return to Scotland, the retiring MEP said:

“My visit to Barcelona this week opened my eyes to the dramatic similarities between the Scottish and Catalonian campaigns for independence. Artur Mas, the leader of the Catalonian nationalists and Alex Salmond's opposite number in Spain, is demanding a referendum on independence in November. In Spain this would be illegal, as the Spanish constitution (which was supported by more than 90% of Catalans in 1978) forbids any region of Spain from holding a referendum on secession. Nevertheless, the fiery Artur Mas seems hellbent on breaking the law and holding an illegal referendum, possibly forcing the government in Madrid to suspend the Catalonian parliament or Generalitat.

“The Catalans are watching nervously what will happen in Scotland on 18th September. A 'YES' vote could trigger a spate of secessionist movements, not only in Catalonia, but also in the Basque Country, Galicia, Northern Italy, Corsica and a host of other places. If Scotland takes the wrong decision in September, it could begin to unravel Europe, dismantling the unity that has maintained peace for over 70 years, holding back the negative forces of narrow nationalism. I explained this in many meetings with Catalonians and was amazed to discover so many similarities between the Catalan independence campaign and the YES campaign in Scotland. It was almost as if they were being coordinated!

“In Barcelona I found the same utter denial that a vote to secede from an EU Member State would necessitate leaving the EU and applying for membership as an Accession state. The same allegations that this and other warnings about the Eurozone and the borderless Shenghen Area are simply fear-mongering by the NO camp. The same background of rising tension and an increasingly polarised debate that is dividing communities and even families and frightening away inward investment. It is all sadly familiar and indicative of how damaging nationalist movements can be to the unity, stability and economic prosperity of large and important EU Member States like the UK and Spain.”