The First Minister of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, appeared to announce a declaration of independence in the Catalan Parliament on Tuesday, before immediately appearing to suspend it, leaving politicians and journalists across Spain wondering for several hours what he had really meant.

"Having reached this historic moment", he said: "and as the First Minister of the Catalan government, I assume, by presenting the results of the referendum before parliament and our fellow citizens, the mandate that Catalonia become an independent state in the form of a republic".

"That is what needs t...