Making his first statement since the Catalan parliament passed a new referendum law on secession from Spain yesterday, the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, said "we saw a deplorable democratic spectacle based on a day dream", adding "they want to impose a new illegal regime".

"There will be no self-determination referendum."

Mr. Rajoy asked Spaniards to support him faced with Catalan separatist challenge: "I am aware of my duties […] I will do what I need to do". He added that he understood Spaniards' "anxieties" over the matter, but that "no one should doubt" Spain will act to defend democracy.

He also issued a veiled warning to separatists, noting that the Spanish state sometimes appeared slow to react "but appearances should not deceive us".

Events in the Catalan parliament on Wednesday were a "perversion" of democracy, he said, and told separatists to "stop dividing Catalan society" and "using institutions to their own ends".

He thanked opposition parties in the regional chamber for using parliamentary rules to try to stop the separatists.

"The [Spanish] government will defend the rule of law."