back to top

People Really Aren't Happy With Boris Johnson's Take On The Catalonian Referendum

The foreign secretary did not condemn the police violence in Catalonia today.

Posted on
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty Images

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has been heavily criticised for failing to condemn police violence in Catalonia during the region's attempted independence referendum on Sunday.

Earlier today, violence erupted in Spain as voters in the Catalonian independence referendum took to the polls. Hundreds of people have been injured in violent clashes between protesters and police: Rubber bullets were fired, and the region's off-duty firefghters were seen rushing to protect people as the clashes escalated.

Politicians from across the British political spectrum rushed to condemn the violence. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: "Police violence against citizens in Catalonia is shocking. The Spanish government must act to end it now."

However, Boris Johnson's comment on the referendum failed to condemn the violent scenes reported from Catalonia and the foreign secretary has come under severe criticism for it.

The Catalonian referendum is a matter for the Spanish govt & people. Imp that Spanish constitution respected & the rule of law upheld. (1/2)

@BorisJohnson / Twitter / Via Twitter: @BorisJohnson

Spain is a close ally and a good friend, whose strength and unity matters to the UK. (2/2)

@BorisJohnson / Twitter / Via Twitter: @BorisJohnson

Many people had expected Johnson to condemn the violence.

Police response in #Catalonia brutal and disproportionate. Boris Johnson must summon Spanish ambassador to tell him this is unacceptable

@vincecable / Twitter / Via Twitter: @vincecable

Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the statement was "shamefully weak".

Statement from @foreignoffice on #Catalonia is shamefully weak. A true friend of Spain would tell them today’s acti…

@NicolaSturgeon / Twitter / Via Twitter: @NicolaSturgeon

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband said the scenes from Catalonia were "appalling" and criticised the UK government for "staying silent".

The scenes from Catalonia are appalling. They go way beyond rights and wrongs of independence. The U.K. government cannot just stay silent.

@Ed_Miliband / Twitter / Via Twitter: @Ed_Miliband

The editor of Conservative Home, Mark Wallace, said Johnson had ignored the police "kicking the crap" out of the people who wanted to vote in the referendum.

All of which can happen without riot police kicking the crap out of hundreds of people for holding a pretend refere…

@wallaceme / Twitter / Via Twitter: @wallaceme

The SNP's leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said Johnson should be "ashamed" of his statement.

You should be ashamed of this statement & withdraw it. This is not fitting for a foreign secretary. Spain attacked…

@IanBlackfordMP / Twitter / Via Twitter: @IanBlackfordMP

Journalist Owen Jones called Johnson a "joke of a human being".

Apologies to Catalonia for this joke of a human being, please ignore.

@OwenJones84 / Twitter / Via Twitter: @OwenJones84

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.