Exiled politician Clara Ponsati said she is more hopeful than ever of Catalonia winning independence from Spain. The former Catalan education minister urged Scotland to support the “long struggle” ahead as she spoke at the Radical Independence Conference in Glasgow yesterday.

It was her first public appearance since seven of her former colleagues were given jail sentences of between nine to 13 years in Madrid, sparking huge protests in Catalonia. The St Andrews University professor said some believed the fight for independence was over following the referendum of October 2017, which was declared illegal by Spain’s constitutional court and triggered a crackdown on Catalan leaders.

But she said: “It’s not – we are back stronger than we were on that October 1, 2017.

“Why do I say we are back and we are stronger? – because if you look at images, if you follow the news, our youth are out on the streets, they are not going to tolerate this.

“They have realised that if they accept this, they will have to live in an autocracy for the rest of their lives and they are not going to settle for that.

“I am an optimist, and I am more optimistic than ever seeing all these young people, because their anger is our hope.”

She added: “But it is not going to be easy, it is going to be a long struggle. People are on the streets, they are going to be on the streets for weeks, for months.

“But we must persist and we shall overcome.”

Delegates at the Radical Independence Conference sent a message of support to Catalonia by standing up and holding signs saying: “Free Catalan Political Prisoners”.

A rally was also held in Glasgow’s George Square yesterday to back rights in Catalonia.

Ponsati said Scots had been extremely supportive of the Catalan cause, adding “don’t fail us now”.

She said: “We need to keep up the struggle, we need to support the people sitting on the airports, the people sitting on the roads, the people who will be doing all kinds of actions to call the attention of the world and to get us down to a democratic solution.”

In an interview published yesterday, Ponsati also said she expected a new arrest warrant to be issued for her “any day now” following the sentencing of her former colleagues

A fresh arrest warrant has been issued for former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who is living abroad.

Last year Madrid issued a European arrest warrant against Ponsati for an extradition trial, but later withdrew it.