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Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, has raised the tone against the independence movement and the Catalan government in an interview this Tuesday with Spanish radio station COPE, in which he appeared proud about the application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution as an example of his strong decisive action towards the Catalan crisis. The prime minister later doubled down on his robustness in allusion to the words of Carles Puigdemont from Belgium about another "solution" to independence being possible, accusing the Catalan president of admitting the "hoax" of the viability of a separate state. He also called on the constitutional reform commission for all offers for Catalonia.

"Me, scared over Catalonia? I've applied [article] 155 and dismissed the members of the government of Catalonia, that hasn't been done since the Second World War", boasted Rajoy on the right-leaning station. The comments were in response to figures like former prime minister José María Aznar, who last week again demanded tougher treatment of the independence movement. "If we would have [applied article 155] two months earlier they could have said something to us (...) all of this has meant that Spaniards know that the state can defend itself," he said.

The Spanish government has, for days now, been saying it is seeing evidence of a return to constitutional legality, after Carme Forcadell, the speaker of the Catalan Parliament, described the unilateral declaration of independence as "symbolic" to the Supreme Court. "It was a lie that they were ready and that, if they became independent, they would stay in Europe", he said about admissions from certain Catalan ministers of their inability to apply the result of the 1st October referendum. Rajoy also attacked Puigdemont for saying to Belgian newspaper Le Soir that another solution to independence was possible. "I have no interest in getting into his head, but I believe he's telling people that he's deceived them," said the prime minister.

Puigdemont's decision to go to Brussels was also the subject of criticism from Rajoy. "He's there because he wants to be", he said in response to the accusations that there were no legal guarantees in Spain. "I found out about his escape the next day, when it was already emerging that he had gone to Marseilles by car," he said. Rajoy denounced Puigdemont's decision to stand in the upcoming election: "It makes no sense for a person in prison to be a minister", he said, expressing regret that they could stand not being banned from holding public, although in his opinion lying has already politically banned them from office.

Rajoy, however, showed no self-criticism about the events of the 1st October, the day of the referendum, like the police violence, or about whether there were operational errors by the security forces or intelligence services. "Neither the CNI [National Intelligence Centre], nor any of the information services told us anything, they did everything which was needed on their part", he said on the presence of ballot boxes in polling stations. On the other hand, he praised the "commendable" work of the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard, announcing that he wanted to make their wages the same as those of the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan police).

On the subject of the support from PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) and Ciudadanos (Citizens) for article 155, which he said only has to last "a short time" until the 21st December election, he said that they will fight together so that independence supporters do not win the election. He also denounced the role of Diplocat (Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia) and justified decreeing its closure. "In international terms, they have created an infinity of offices, the only thing they did was to speak bad of Spain". As for his government's initial plan to intervene in Catalan public media, however, he said "it makes no sense for three months and freedom of speech is a basic right".

The prime minister was just as critical of the 8th November "countrywide standstill" supported by members of the public indignant about the application of article 155 and about the preventive detention of eight ministers. "It wasn't a strike in practice (...) It had practically no take up," he said. "We saw the human quality of those who are capable of putting children in the way", he said about the photographs on children sitting in the streets closed in the protest. He said that the Spanish executive has opened a process to penalise them. "There were more than 200 people and vehicles identified," he said.

In the same week that the commission in the Spanish Congress for constitutional reform formally started work, Rajoy expressed no guarantees that they would try to adapt the text to the demands of the independence movement. "I've never been a supporter of reforming the Constitution, I'm prepared to listen, but not to go against unity or sovereignty", he said, implicitly alluding to the Podemos' proposal to include the right to decide. He did, however, show support for revising the model of autonomous communities, to be "evaluated" this Wednesday in the lower chamber.