A SCOTTISH MP has welcomed the news that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is prepared to talk about pardons for Catalonia’s political prisoners – those politicians and public figures jailed for their part in the 2017 independence referendum.

Douglas Chapman, the SNP member for Dunfermline and West Fife, who is also vice-chair of Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Catalonia, was speaking after Sanchez told Spain’s Congress: “There’s a time for punishment and a time for concord.”

The Socialist Party prime minister first came to power in Madrid with support from pro-Catalan independence parties and was re-elected after Catalonia’s ruling Republican Left (ERC) abstained from the vote.

Sanchez is already considering a report from the Supreme Court on the possibility of pardoning the nine prisoners and those in exile, but Chapman believes their continued detention is flouting democracy.

READ MORE: Catalans look to Scotland as example on how to hold an independence referendum

He told The National: “Having to endure nearly four years imprisonment for representing the views and demands of their constituents has been I believe an infringement of democracy.

“Now that the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez has called for ‘harmony’ not ‘punishment’ I hope that his coalition government will recognise the gross injustice meted upon these leaders and release them without further delay.”

Right-wing parties, however, are opposing any move by Sanchez to pardon the inmates, who include former vice-president Oriol Junqueras and other former ministers, as well as the “two Jordis” – Cuixart and Sanchez – who respectively led the grassroots groups Omnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC).

Pablo Casado, who leads the conservative People’s Party (PP), the main opposition party in Congress, told Sanchez: “You prefer to put Spain’s constitutional order at risk in exchange for remaining in power.”

While the PP is the smallest party in Catalonia and is largely irrelevant there, it has given notice that it intends to lobby all Spanish local authorities with motions to symbolically reject the leaders’ pardons.

However, Sanchez is not alone in willing to discuss pardons, and former Socialist prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has defended his “conviction” on the need to seek dialogue.

Zapatero said: “The big decisions that open spaces are always accompanied by adjectives of betrayal, as happened to me when I approached the end of [Basque independence group] ETA. Now they will call us traitors, but in the medium and long term it will serve to find a framework to fit in Catalonia and Spain.”

READ MORE: Former Catalan president Quim Torra faces new trial for support of indy leaders

As Sanchez considers his next move, a poll reported yesterday by El Nacional in Catalonia showed 72.5% of Socialist voters were against granting pardons, with 76.8% saying the political prisoners’ “repentance” was a fundamental requirement for granting them.

In the wider population, 80% were against the move, with 72% saying such a move would be regretted.

However, Chapman added: “It is only through respect for democracy and building opportunities for dialogue can this difficult situation be resolved.”