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The former Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, declares in a volume of memoirs about to be published that in late October 2017 he had made up his mind to take direct control of Catalonia under article 155 of the constitution, even if Catalan president Carles Puigdemont were to take a last-minute step back and call Catalan elections instead of declaring the independence of Catalonia.

According to book extracts released this weekend in Spanish newspapers El Confidencial and El País, Rajoy writes in his book Una España mejor (A better Spain) that he "saw no reason to suspend a decision that was not the result of a whim, but rather the consequence of weeks of study and of very solid legal and political arguments. Before reaching the point of applying that constitutional article, we had built up a great deal of justification for it and that did not disappear through Puigdemont's calling of elections; independence was still declared."

It is not the only statement in the former Partido Popular leader's book that will raise eyebrows. The international media backlash against Spain in 2017 caused by images of police violence against Catalan voters during the October 1st independence referendum is regarded by Mariano Rajoy as "exaggerated".

"The National Police and the Civil Guard complied with their obligations and they followed judicial instructions, despite being harassed and even assaulted," the former Spanish PM writes. "The uproar in response to the police action was exaggerated and unfair," he adds. 

In the volume of memoirs, Mariano Rajoy also makes candid comments on earlier moments in the growth of the Catalan independence movement. He says he regarded Catalonia's first independence consultation, on 9th November 2014, as a "simulated referendum". Rajoy says that for him it was an act of "propaganda" without the slightest consequence, although many people took it as a humiliation - since the Spanish authorities let it go ahead even after it had been judicially suspended. The former prime minister sums it up as "a joke in bad taste".

And just over two years after that, in early 2017, Rajoy met secretly with Carles Puigdemont in Madrid, and asked the Catalan president: "Do you think I'm going to allow you to call a referendum?"

Rajoy describes Puigdemont's response as follows: "His answer still puzzles me: 'You won't authorize it, because, in addition, you can't.'"

Mariano Rajoy's book is to be launched on December 4th in Madrid.

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