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Catalonia declares independence, Madrid votes to strip autonomy

The Catalan government voted on Friday to declare independence from Spain, following a referendum earlier this month. 

The decision came as over 2000 pro-indpendence supporters gathered outside the regional parliament in Barcelona. 

“Catalonia is and will be a land of freedom. In times of difficulty and in times of celebration. Now more than ever”, the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont tweeted. 

Madrid responded within an hour however by voting to strip Catalonia of its autonomy and impose direct rule, the first time such a decision has been taken since the 1970s. 

France, Britain, Germany and the United States expressed support for a united Spain, dismissing the declaration of independence, whilst the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk was quoted by Reuters as saying "the independence vote changed nothing and the EU would only deal with the central government."

See here, here and here