Following the traditional summer meeting with the King, the Prime Minister said that tourism represents more than 13% of all jobs and 11% of GDP. He also advocated a return to normality “as soon as possible” at Barcelona-El Prat Airport and reiterated that a referendum on independence will not be held on 1 October.

Rajoy explained that the primary discussion at his meeting with King Felipe VI focused on economic issues. Mariano Rajoy pointed out that more than 500,000 jobs a year are being created and stressed that, provided the economic policy is maintained, the record figure of 20 million Spaniards in work could be reached by the year 2019. As well as being “very positive” for those who find a job, this will increase revenue and allow more resources to be allocated to healthcare, education, pensions and public services in general, he argued.

Still on the subject of economic matters, he highlighted that the tourism figures were good in 2015, even better in 2016, “but that this year are exceptionally good”. The tourism sector employs more than 2.5 million Spaniards – more than 13% of the total – and represents more than 11% of the Spanish Gross Domestic Product, he added. “We must look after this and support it”. Mr Rajoy also    called for “responsibility and common sense” in this sector and, in reference to the recent acts of vandalism against tourist activities, he claimed that it is “foolish” to mistreat those who come to visit Spain.

The Prime Minster also informed the King about the labour conflict in recent days at Barcelona-El Prat Airport.

In his briefing, Mariano Rajoy called for the company and workers to act with “common sense”, since “you cannot generate a situation such as the one taking place in the middle of the month of August”. He also rejected using this issue “on purely political grounds”.

He recalled that AENA manages all the airports in Spain and there is only a “one-off” problem at one of them. Everyone must assume their own responsibilities and help contribute to “returning the airport to normality as soon as possible”.

Fortunately that now looks as though it could be coming to a satisfactory conclusion after Eulen, the company that employs the striking staff who operate the airport’s security scanners, accepted a proposal made during negotiations mediated by the Catalan regional government.