Catalan separatists say they will declare independence from Spain if people in the north eastern region vote 'Yes' in a referendum to split from Madrid.

The dramatic move has been mooted by secessionist parties proposing a draft bill outlining how the region, which asserts a separate identity, language and culture to the rest of Spain, can hold a referendum in October.

The regional government led by Carles Puigdemont, said if 'Yes' wins, it would declare independence within 48 hours, while if voters rejected the move, there would be an early election to form a new regional government.

The faltering Spanish economy has pushed the cause of independence and voters will get a binary question of "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?"

Spain's Constitutional court and the country's government have blocked previous independence bids and will block an attempt to hold a referendum.

The regional government will not send a formal referendum bill to the parliament until August in a bid to hold off Madrid's court blocking the legislation, Reuters reported.

A non-binding referendum held in 2014 saw 80% of those who voted backing independence.

On Monday (3 July) Puidgemont fired a member of his government for doubting whether a referendum could be held and he will have to ease conflicting pressures among the pro-independence coalition.

In March this year the former Catalan president Artur Mas was barred from holding public office for two years for defying the constitutional court and going ahead with the non-binding referendum in November 2014.

Until now, the quest for independence for its supporters has been tempered by a realism that it would be unlikely. Former Catalan parliament member Alfons López Tena told IBTimes UK in 2016 that independence was "wishful thinking".

In May, the Barcelona football team lent their support to a proposed independence referendum.

However, the Catalan government has so far been unable to secure ballot boxes for the referendum.