SPOKESWOMAN for Spain's acting government Isabel Celaá believes the British prime minister's resignation – announced this morning (Friday) means 'a hard Brexit could be impossible to stop', but...
Rubalcaba and Freddie Starr die on same day
ON A TRAGIC day for the UK and Spain, former interior minister and government deputy president Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, 67, died in hospital just before 15.30 after a massive stroke on Wednesday evening – just hours after British comedian Freddie Starr passed away at his home in Mijas (Málaga province) aged 76.
Tributes have flooded in for Rubalcaba, who had been in a critical condition at the Puerta del Hierro Hospital in his home town of Majadahonda (Greater Madrid region) since 19.15, where he had undergone emergency surgery to disperse a blood clot in his brain.
Socialist regional presidents, and party leaders at regional level, along with nearly all members of the acting PSOE government had visited him in hospital and been supporting Rubalcaba's family, including his wife Pilar Goya, whom he would have been celebrating 40 years of marriage to this year.
Although the local, regional and European Parliamentary election campaigns officially started on Thursday and many socialist launch events still went ahead in recognition that this was what Rubalcaba would have wanted, the PSOE and all its rival parties, except the far-right Vox, have now shelved all their acts for the next three days as a mark of respect – and because, in the case of many PSOE candidates, it would be too difficult and painful to continue.
Even before the death of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's second-in-command had been announced, acting president Pedro Sánchez – who succeeded Rubalcaba as head of the PSOE after the latter's resignation in 2014 – had cleared his diary for the weekend to remain in hospital with his old friend, meaning he would not be attending the opening of the Barcelona International Motor Show on Saturday along with King Felipe VI.
Whilst Spain was still hoping for a miracle this morning, the UK learnt of the death of a popular Saturday night TV figure – Freddie Starr (second picture) died suddenly at his villa on the Costa del Sol, for reasons which have not been made clear as yet.
Probably best known for presenting talent show Opportunity Knocks from the 1970s onwards, the comedian went on to have two programmes of his own in the 1990s: The Freddie Starr Show and An Audience With Freddie Starr.
He had suffered a heart attack in 2010 and underwent a bypass, although it was not clear whether he had been completely cured or was still in treatment.
But a neighbour, a nurse, who spoke to The Guardian, said Starr's sudden death today may have been a heart attack.
Rubalcaba: Chemistry professor who brought about ETA's demise
Dr Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba has been described as 'one of the most intelligent men in politics' in Spain, and his time at the head of the interior ministry has been credited with directly leading to the end of Spain's long-running terrorist organisation ETA.
His career in front-line politics began as minister of education and science between 1992 and 1993, and then minister for presidency from 1993 to 1996, under national president Felipe González, who once described Rubalcaba as being 'the best political brain' in the country.
Between 2004 and 2006, when the socialists were back in power under Zapatero, Rubalcaba was spokesman for the party in Parliament, then from 2006 to 2011, interior minister, combining this in the final year with his role of deputy president of Spain and government spokesman.
From November 2011 to spring 2014, Rubalcaba was leader of the PSOE and direct rival to then president Mariano Rajoy, of the right-wing PP, who described him as 'an adversary worthy of respect and merit'.
After the PSOE's disappointing results in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections, Rubalcaba took the blame and stood down, handing the reins to Pedro Sánchez, Spain's current president.
Rubalcaba gave up his Parliamentary seat in September that year – with a PhD in Organic Chemistry, he then began teaching the subject at Madrid's Complutense University from the moment he left the coalface of national politics.
The university and, in particular, chemistry students are said to be very distressed by his passing.
During Rubalcaba's six years as interior minister, the barrage of police investigations, arrests and swoops he fielded meant ETA terror cells were broken up in such quick succession that the organisation never had time to re-form or get back on its feet – key commando leaders such as Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu, or 'Txeroki', Aitzol Iriondo, Jurdan Martitegi, Ibon Gogeascoetxea and Mikel Carrera were arrested and remanded in custody between 2008 and 2010.
As a result of its non-viability, the ailing terrorist organisation announced a ceasefire in autumn 2011, and has since disarmed.
After more than 40 years of causing violent deaths across the country in ongoing attacks, devastating families and scaring off potential tourists, wiping out entire supermarkets, police barracks and airport terminals, the fear of when ETA would next strike was finally consigned to history.
Basque regional president or Lehendakari, Íñigo Urkullu, said he and Rubalcaba had had 'an intense working relationship' for 'many years', going through 'extremely tough times' in the 'battle for peace and harmony' in the then troubled northern region where ETA was based.
“We always remember Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba every October 20, on the anniversary of ETA's announcing its permanent end to armed activity,” Urkullu says.
More Politics & People content
IT'S exactly 15 years ago today (Wednesday) since Crown Prince Felipe of Asturias and the famous face of the ten o'clock news on Spain's first channel, TVE – reporter Letizia Ortiz – tied the knot in...
OPTIMISM about Spain's national political situation has soared since the general elections, voters of all parties hugely support the country's membership of the European Union, but a majority believe Spain needs...
FOUR young adults with Down Syndrome are standing for the local elections on May 26, each in different regions. Blanca San Segundo, 29, is number eight on the list for the centre-right party Ciudadanos in Godella...