Nigel Farage explodes at Brussels double standards over Catalonia – EU accused of SNP bias

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The former Brexit Party leader claimed that if Scotland held an unofficial referendum, as SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has hinted, its politicians would “never” lose their diplomatic immunity. His strongly-worded tweet came after the European Parliament voted to lift the immunity of the former Catalan president yesterday.

The vote takes the extradition of Mr Puigdemont and two of his senior ministers a step closer.

The three fled Spain in 2017 to avoid arrest in relation to their role in organising Catalan’s independence referendum.

It was deemed illegal by a Spanish court and they have been the subject of European arrest warrants issued by Spain.

Following the EU vote, Mr Farage claimed that it only passed because of the Catalan politician’s Eurosceptic views.

The veteran politician, who announced his retirement from politics this week, tweeted: “I stand with Carles Puigdemont after Brussels stripped his immunity.

“This would never have happened to an SNP MEP, because they were pro-EU.

“Carlos is a eurosceptic (sic) — and so the rules are different.”

The post quickly garnered dozens of comments – with users both backing and rejecting his argument.

One supporter wrote: “The EU only got involved because the Spanish government is pro-EU. It’s a totalitarian protection racket.”

Another tweeted: “They (EU) will remove any person who they believe to be a threat or could expose them.”

But one critic said: “He’s wanted in Spain on charges of rebellion and stands accused of misusing public funds.”

The vote against Mr Puigdemont passed by 400 votes to 248 with 45 abstentions.

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MEPs voted by 404 to 247 with 42 abstentions regarding Antoni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, respectively the former health and education ministers in Mr Puigdemont’s government.

Spanish foreign minister, Arancha González Laya, said the decision showed that “an MEP can’t use their position to avoid justice in their home country and demonstrates the solidity of the Spanish judicial system”.

She said it vindicated Madrid’s view that “Catalonia’s problems will be resolved in Spain, not in Europe”.

But it reflected a further rift in the Spanish coalition government, with the leftwing Unidas Podemos MEPs voting to retain the immunity while their Socialist partners voted for it to be removed.

Nine independence leaders who remained in Catalonia, including the regional vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, received sentences of up to 13 years over their role in the failed bid for independence.

It is expected that new European arrest warrants will be issued on charges of sedition and, in the case of Mr Puigdemont and Mr Comín, misuse of public funds.

Mr Puigdemont responded: “It’s a sad day for the European Parliament. We have lost our immunity, but the European parliament has lost even more than that: as a result it has also lost European democracy.”

His party, Junts, tweeted: “We will not give up. The political conflict between Catalonia and Spain has stopped being an internal affair.

“We have brought it to the heart of Europe to continue denouncing the repression and political persecution of the Spanish state.”

The trio are appealing the vote.

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