SPANISH spying on British MPs and Catalan delegations in London, Germany and Switzerland, could backfire on Spain’s Josep Borrell’s bid to become Europe’s top diplomat.

European socialists – colleagues of Borrell’s PSOE in Spain – could hold the key to the acting foreign minister appointment.

The National has previously told how reports were prepared for Borrell on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and several Scottish MPs sympathetic to the cause of Catalan independence.

He has previously been fined for insider trading and has put his undiplomatic foot in his mouth over America achieving independence by “killing four Indians”.

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His appointment is due to be ratified by the European Parliament in October, but a successful outcome cannot be guaranteed.

The appointment could be rejected by MEPs, despite having already been agreed by the 27 member states, and the outspoken Borrell has seen the espionage tale taken up by Swiss media.

Meanwhile, Jordi Cuixart, the jailed president of Omnium Cultural, has asked Spain’s Supreme Court for permission to be temporarily released for the birth of his fourth child in September.

He has been in jail for almost two years and is awaiting a verdict in his trial for organising demonstrations around the 2017 Catalan independence referendum.

Cuixart has asked for an extraordinary permit to leave the prison to accompany his wife Txell Bonet, including a six-hour period after the birth and other daily periods for as long as she remains in hospital.

The approach has been made under a section of Penitentiary Law, which states: “In case of death or serious illness of parents, spouse, children, siblings and other people intimately linked to inmates … as well as important and proven reasons … exit permits will be granted, unless exceptional circumstances arise.”

Cuixart is in so-called “preventative detention”, and a report from the public prosecutor appeared to support his temporary freedom, and added that his request for post-natal daily freedom be evaluated after the birth.