Borràs case

Laura Borràs: "I have no intention of stepping aside"

Speaker accuses other parties of seeking to eliminate her as a "political adversary" and rejects suspension provided for in the regulations

3 min
The president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, this Tuesday at the Parliament's Audience Office

BarcelonaAt mid-morning it was announced Speaker Laura Borràs would appear before the media, without mentioning the controversy of her court case. Yet Borràs addressed the topic straight way: "I have no intention of stepping aside," she stated leaving no room for doubt despite the pressure she has been under in the past few days to resign, also from her allies. "I am innocent," Borràs affirmed, who insisted she has not committed "any crime". Nevertheless, Catalonia's High Court has left her one step away from standing trial accused of favouring a friend in tenders when she was head of the Institution of Catalan Letters.

Borràs has accused political parties of wanting to remove her from political life and use the court case which affects her to do so. "They want to eliminate me as a political adversary", she claimed, and also made a veiled attack on ERC. ERC had asked her to resign to avoid tarnishing "prestige" of the Catalan Parliament. "It is precisely thinking about the dignity of Parliament that I consider that I should not resign," Borràs said and again asserted that the case against her is the result of a "prospective" investigation for "being who she is" and "representing the project she represents".

In this sense, she has asked "democratic" parties and "especially pro-independence ones" to refrain from "acting as judges", and also criticised judges who act "with political criteria". "The judicial harassment against me is evident, yet those who give credence to reports prepared by the Guardia Civil don't see it," she said, questioning the evidence which has been brought to light, including emails in which she speaks of the splitting contracts with the accused businessman.

Borràs has asked them to support her and not to apply Article 25.4 of the rules of Parliament, which state MPs ought to be suspended when they are formally accused of corruption. "I do not feel [this article] concerns me", Borràs told the media: "I have not done anything that is criminally punishable". Asked about this issue at a press conference, CUP spokesman Xavier Pellicer declined to explain what his party's position is despite insistence from the media: "It is not a supervening situation, it was already clear that this scenario would occur (...). ERC and JxCat are responsible". He refused to explain whether the CUP believe Laura Borràs should be suspended, saying they will speak on the matter at a later stage. "The State's dirty war cannot be used to cover up corruption, and corruption cannot be used to cover up the State's dirty war", he added.

Speaker Laura Borràs with her team in the corridors of parliament.

In Borràs's opinion, Article 25.4 does not respect "presumption of innocence". Borràs also pointed out that there are other MPs to whom the same article could be applied because they are also pending trial. For example, her predecessor, Roger Torrent, now a minister in the Catalan government and also an MP. Yet he will be tried for disobedience and not corruption, after he was indicted for having allowed a debate on self-determination and censure of the monarchy in the Catalan Parliament. In fact, the only MPs who are also indicted for the crime of embezzlement are Josep Maria Jové and Lluís Salvadó (Borràs also stands accused of defrauding the administration, forging paperwork and influence peddling), who were accused over the organisation of the independence referendum in 2017.

Asked if, as Speaker, she does not also have the mission of enforcing all the provisions in the regulations, Borràs said: "The regulation is full of loopholes, repetitions and inaccuracies (...). There have already been interpretation problems on issues that have been subject to reconsideration. My goal is to work so Parliament improves its conditions and can represent citizens, and that means doing it by defending each and every one of its rights, including the presumption of innocence".

The issue was also discussed this Tuesday at the press conference after the cabinet meeting, Quim Bertomeu reports. Now minister and former speaker Roger Torrent appeared before journalists to explain a set of economic measures, but it was inevitable to ask him how he saw the problems of his successor as speaker. Torrent, however, avoided any controversy by indicating that he could not comment out of respect for the "separation of powers". Government spokeswoman Patrícia Plaja tried to stay out of it too: "What happens in Parliament need not affect the Government". If ERC ends up being casting a decisive vote to suspend Borràs, Plaja may have to revise her prognosis.