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Since Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell's comment a few months ago that the Catalan pro-independence parties were making themselves look stupid by blocking Spain's annual budget and would end up voting in favour, a lot has happened. So much so that, for example, Borrell himself is a political shadow of what he was then when his star had not begun to fall, as was seen in the family photo of the Spanish government outside last week's cabinet meeting. The other members of the executive awaited the arrival of the prime minister talking with one another, while Borrell, alone, bitter and troubled, had no one to converse with.

The truth is that Borrell was not right then and neither are those who now predict that last Thursday's mini-summit between the Spanish and Catalan governments and the subsequent joint statement signify a breakthrough aimed at a result that will be none other than the passing of the budget. The statement was a first step towards effective dialogue, but repression, political prisoners and a referendum are still not part of any agenda, either publicly or privately. The threat that without its budget secured the Spanish government will not be able to withstand much more and the independence movement will be opening the door to an executive formed by the right - the PP, Ciudadanos and the extremists Vox - has not elicited the desired response, at least from the jailed Jordi Sànchez, who heads the JxCat political grouping from the prison of Lledoners. "They cannot ask us to renounce and surrender simply to prevent the right and the far right from governing in Spain," said the jailed MP on Sunday.

We are, in consequence, more or less in the same place as before. A long way from a yes vote to the budget, but without ruling it out absolutely if a major step is taken to respond to the independence movement's agenda, something that right now seems impossible, despite the ability of the vulgar and Francoist right in Madrid to confuse what its scribes say with reality. The joint statement in Barcelona leaves room for a referendum by speaking of 'legal certainty' and, unlike previous statements, omits any mention of the Spanish constitution and the current legal order, as Professor Joan Queralt quickly indicated in this newspaper.

The no to the Spanish budget is still a no, above all because Pedro Sánchez is not taken very seriously by anyone. And, without a proposal that includes the prisoners and a referendum, the independence movement has told him both directly and indirectly that it is headed for defeat.