In a little more than a year as Madrid correspondent I have reported on terrorism and Brexit: but nothing has shaken Spain like the upheaval in Catalonia

At 7.50am on 1 October, a car tore down a narrow street in Barcelona’s gothic quarter, scattering the crowd that had been waiting in the dark and drizzle outside the Cervantes primary school for almost three hours.

The panic – this was only six weeks after August’s atrocities – soon gave way to elation, and the screams to cheers. The car, it transpired, was delivering ballot boxes, their arrival greeted with rapture and perhaps even a touch of disbelief.

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