José Cupido Tocón obituary | World news

My father-in-law, José Cupido Tocón, who has died aged 101, was a refugee from the Spanish civil war who settled in Britain and remained there until the death of General Francisco Franco, when he returned to his beloved Andalucia.

José was born in San Roque, near Cádiz, into a poor family. His father, José Cupido, a farm labourer, took his own life when his son was a teenager. His mother, Francesca (nee Tocón), brought up seven children on her own. José worked in farming, but in 1938 he was called up during the Spanish civil war and served in a cavalry unit. In the same year he was captured by the fascist forces and imprisoned in Seville.

One night, he and a fellow prisoner escaped and made the long and tortuous journey to Algeciras, on the Bay of Gibraltar, avoiding roads to prevent recapture. Eventually, through family in the port city, they found a small boat, which they rowed across to Gibraltar. “Papers please,” were the first English words José heard, from a British border official in Gibraltar.

José was held in custody and given the choice of joining the British army or the merchant navy. He chose the latter and joined a ship as a cook. Unfortunately, his lack of culinary skills was quickly discovered. He joined another ship and a kindly Chinese chief cook taught him what he needed to know. He spent the next few years on ships, managing to evade U-boats. Eventually, in 1940, he came to the UK as a refugee and joined the burgeoning Spanish expat community in London.

He had a number of jobs, one of which was digging tunnels for the London underground. He later became a chef at the Grand Palace hotel and Simpson’s department store. In 1966 he moved to Chichester, West Sussex, again working as a chef.

When Franco died in 1975, this was the signal for José to return to Spain. He went back to Algeciras, then lived in Jimena de la Frontera for a few years, returning to Algeciras in 1988. He was, for a number of years, a volunteer for the Banco Alimentario (food bank) and for this he was awarded a long service medal by the Spanish government.

In 1946 José married Marguerita Martinez, from Gibraltar, in the UK. They had three daughters. When they separated in 1958, José was given custody of the children. In the 1960s he married Maya Kimanis, a Polish-German refugee; she died in 1995. In 2013, when José was 97, he married Elena Arias, from Peru; she died in 2015.

He is survived by his daughters, Isabella, Francesca and Joséfina, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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El Rey aborda Gibraltar en Westminster | Opinion Home

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El Rey insta a encontrar “frmulas satisfactorias” para Gibraltar ante el Parlamento britnico | Espaa Home

La histrica visita de los Reyes a Reino Unido

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Picardo ve “antidemocrtica” la postura del Rey Felipe VI sobre Gibraltar | Espaa Home

Fabian Picardo, ministro principal de Gibraltar, en unos cursos de...
Fabin Picardo, ministro principal de Gibraltar, en unos cursos de verano en Marbella.

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King of Spain calls for Gibraltar dialogue with UK – video | World news

King Felipe of Spain reveals he is confident that Spain and Britain could work towards an acceptable arrangement over Gibraltar. Addressing an audience of peers and MPs in the House of Lords on Wednesday, he also demands greater certainty over the future rights of British and Spanish citizens living in the UK and abroad after Brexit

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King of Spain reveals hopes for new Gibraltar ‘arrangements’ | World news

King Felipe of Spain has called on the British government to work towards a new agreement over the future of Gibraltar and demanded greater certainty over the future rights of Spanish citizens living in the UK after Brexit. Addressing peers and MPs in the House of Lords as part of his state visit to the UK, King Felipe VI said there while there had “been estrangements, rivalries and disputes” in the countries’ history, those were now relegated to the past.

“I am certain that this resolve to overcome our differences will be even greater in the case of Gibraltar, and I am confident that through the necessary dialogue and effort our two governments will be able to work towards arrangements that are acceptable to all involved.”

Some Conservative MPs are concerned that the fate of Gibraltar could be in fresh doubt as the UK negotiates its exit from the European Union. The European commission’s negotiating guidelines appear to give Spain a veto over future trading arrangements involving the territory, saying that once the UK leaves the EU, “no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom”.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell earlier raised the issue during prime minister’s questions. He welcomed the fact that Gibraltar’s flag was among those being flown outside parliament for the King’s visit and asked Damian Green, first secretary of state, standing in for Theresa May, to ask her to “remind the King of Spain that Gibraltar is British and that its sovereignty will remain paramount”.

Green said the government’s position was that the primacy of the wishes of Gibraltararians, “which are overwhelmingly to stay British”, will be respected.

The Spanish monarch, who was due to attend a state banquet with the Queen last night, also urged the UK to reach an agreement as soon as possible about what rights will be retained after Brexit by Spaniards living in the UK, and Britons in Spain.

“These citizens have a legitimate expectation of decent and stable living conditions for themselves and for their families,” he said. “I therefore urge our two governments to continue working to ensure that the agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU provides sufficient assurance and certainty.”

The chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, said King Felipe’s comments suggested he was treating the British territory as one that could be “traded from one monarch to another” like a “pawn in a chess game” and urged him to understand that Gibraltar “will remain 100% British”.

May later hailed the “deep and solid” ties between Britain and Spain and insisted that the two nations would maintain the “closest possible relationship” after Brexit. As she hosted the Spanish monarch at No 10, May paid tribute to the Spanish banker Ignacio Echeverria, who died trying to save a woman from an attacker in the London Bridge terror attack.

On the two countries’ relationship, the prime minister said: “Today, we work closely together in a range of areas to ensure the security and prosperity of our people, including through our military and law enforcement cooperation to fight international terrorism, our academic collaboration on science and innovation, and our growing trade and investment ties.

“Indeed, the sheer scale of Spanish investment in Britain demonstrates Spain’s continued confidence in the strength of the UK economy, and shows that we can and will maintain the closest possible relationship.”

It came as Spanish manufacturer CAF announced plans to start building trains and trams at a new factory in Newport, south Wales, with £30m investment leading to 300 new jobs.

Earlier on Wednesday, the ornate Royal Gallery of the House of Lords was packed for the King’s speech, with the prime minister sitting in the front row alongside Jeremy Corbyn, who was accompanied by his wife, Laura Alvarez.

The king expressed regret about Britain’s decision to leave the EU, saying: “Until the present, the UK and Spain have both been partners in the project of European integration, which has brought considerable stability and prosperity to the region. Although this decision may sadden us, and indeed does, we fully respect it.”

After the EU’s negotiating guidelines appeared to give Spain a stake in the future of “the Rock”, the former Tory leader Lord Howard went so far as to hint that Britain might consider military action to defend the disputed territory.

Howard told Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News: “Thirty-five years ago this week, another woman prime minister sent a taskforce halfway across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country, and I’m absolutely certain that our current prime minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar.”

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Spanish royals on state visit to UK, with Brexit issues unavoidable | UK news

The king and queen of Spain start a state visit to the UK on Wednesday in which the two royal families will seek to play down simmering rows over a string of post-Brexit issues between the two countries.

The three-day visit by King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia is the first to the UK by the Spanish royal family since 1986, and was agreed before the Brexit referendum result. It was then deferred twice, first due to the extended negotiations in Spain in March 2016 to form a new government, then by a deferral by Britain due to Theresa May’s decision to call a general election.

Spanish politicians, including the foreign minister Alfonso Dastis, are accompanying the king and queen.

It is being argued that talks on post-Brexit rights for 300,000 UK citizens in Spain and Spanish nationals in the UK – including 3,000 scientists working in higher education – are being conducted at the EU level in Brussels, and therefore need not be raised at length during the state visit. But the Gibraltar dispute, a roadblock in Anglo-Spanish relations further complicated by Brexit, will be unavoidable. Its status is largely a bilateral issue, and Felipe has previously described the British claim to the Rock as an historical anachronism.

Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, has not been asked to any of the talks or major evening dinners by the UK government. In a speech this week in Malaga, he claimed that the Spanish government would try to insert a clause into any future UK-EU agreement on working rights so that it would not apply to EU citizens working in Gibraltar.

The UK ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, said ahead of the visit: “We are not going to negotiate a solution that is against the interest of the people of Gibraltar. Our position has been very clear. The important thing is to talk about the practical issues and interests we all have in common.” He said the priority was to safeguard the working rights of the approximately 7,000 Spaniards who make the daily crossing to work in Gibraltar.

The vast majority of Gibraltarians voted to remain, fearing a loss of access to the EU if there was a vote for Brexit. In March, the issue shot up the list of Brexit priorities when it appeared Brussels had endorsed the idea that no EU-UK Brexit deal could apply in Gibraltar without the agreement of the Spanish and British governments.

The Spanish government has insisted it will not stop a wider Brexit deal over Gibraltar, which it regards primarily as bilateral issue, but it has a bargaining card it can play.

During the state visit, the UK government will also be reluctant to be drawn into the issue of the Catalan independence referendum to be held in October. The Catalonian government has urged Madrid to follow the example set by the UK government, who granted Scotland an official and binding referendum on secession in 2014.

British ministers are likely to argue that the Spanish constitution makes no provision for such a referendum, as Spain is a unitary state. But if there is a vote for secession, nationalists in Scotland and Wales will back calls for the UK to recognise the result. The UK’s Labour Party has yet to set out a position.

The Spanish royals will be formally greeted by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on Horse Guards Parade on Wednesday before attending a state banquet on Wednesday evening.

Prince Harry, in his first involvement in a state visit, will take the royal couple around Westminster Abbey before the Spanish king addresses both parliaments. He will meet Theresa May accompanied by his ministers for a lunch at Downing Street on Thursday. On Friday Felipe is due to visit Oxford University where the royal couple will be greeted by the strongly anti-Brexit vice-chancellor Lord Patten.

In their eagerness to launch a new era in Anglo-Spanish relations, the British government is likely to want to highlight the flourishing trade and business relations between the two countries. The UK is the number one destination for overseas Spanish investment, reaching an accumulated 82.5bn euros by the end of 2015.

The Spanish ambassador to the UK, Carlos Bastarreche, was plucked back from the private sector to take up his posting in London this Spring, partly because of his extensive diplomatic experience at the EU.

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