CATALONIA’S push for independence is “over”, the Spanish Prime Minister has declared.

Pedro Sanchez’s pronouncement – which has been rejected by pro-independence Catalan politicians – came after the Spanish congress approved reform striking down the crime of sedition.

The move will benefit the Catalan leaders who were placed behind bars for their part in the 2017 referendum, which was held without Spanish government consent.

The crime of misuse of public funds, which pro-independence leaders were also charged with after the referendum, will also be revised down as long as the money was not used for personal gain.

Sanchez has faced fierce criticism from the right for the move, with even some of his left-wing allies accusing him of “negotiating with criminals over their own punishment”.

But the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) prime minister suggested it had brought an end to the idea of Catalan independence.

“[The] independence push is over, and nowadays there is coexistence and compliance with the Spanish constitution,” he said.

The Catalan News agency, owned by the regional government, quoted Sanchez as saying that Spain cannot tolerate "returning to past debates”, and ruling out an independence referendum in perpetuity.

"Not only because the Spanish constitution says so, but because we want to look for solutions that stop the bleeding," he said at an EU summit.

The National:

However, Catalan president Pere Aragonès (above), who represents the left-wing, pro-independence ERC, rejected the idea that the push to become a separate nation had ended.

"If someone believes that because we have reached some deals, it means we have given up on our convictions, it shows that they do not understand what is going on in Catalonia," Aragonès said.

On September 11 – Catalonia's national day – around 150,000 people marched in Barcelona for Catalan independence. This was far down on the estimated one million which marched through the city in 2017, one month ahead of the referendum. 

Under the Spanish constitution, which was adopted in a landslide national referendum in 1978 after the end of the fascist Franco era, one part of the country does not have the right to hold a vote on whether or not to secede.