The Spanish state’s raids on Catalan government offices risks a loss of ground for Mariano Rajoy and may energise support for the secession vote

Until Wednesday, the Spanish government’s line on the looming independence vote in Catalonia had been calm, confident and succinct: “There will be no referendum on 1 October.” All too aware of the extreme volatility of the situation, it either sidestepped or shrugged off excitable questions about secession or the possibility of Madrid stepping in to take control of the rebellious regional government.

Related: Catalan president says Madrid is suspending region’s autonomy

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