Face that fits for the man with a head for figures

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The Independent Online
She is the woman who won't be standing next to Gordon Brown tomorrow when the Chancellor of the Exchequer holds up his battered budget box outside 11 Downing Street. But next year could be a different story.

She is Sarah Macaulay, the public relations executive that Mr Brown has been quietly dating for more than two years. The couple were pictured together for the first time yesterday amid Sunday newspaper claims that they became engaged last year.

Close friends said last night that those claims were wrong - but an engagement is likely to be announced soon. "It is fair to say that they are an item but they're not engaged," said one of Mr Brown's closest confidantes. "But most of their friends think they will get engaged. They have been together more than two years now and they are very close."

Ms Macaulay, 33, is co-founder of Hobsbawm Macaulay Communications, a PR firm she set up with her friend Julia Hobsbawm, daughter of Eric Hobsbawm, the historian. She is understood to have met the MP for Dunfermline East during a fund-raising event organised for the Labour Party by her company three years ago. The relationship grew, although Mr Brown, who is notoriously discreet about his social life, never discussed their friendship even as wildly inaccurate rumours about his sexuality were circulating in Fleet Street.

Ms Macaulay, whose Scottish father works in publishing and whose mother is a teacher, attended Acland Burghley comprehensive school in Tufnell Park, north London, and later went to Camden High School for Girls, where she met Ms Hobsbawm.

She went on to study psychology at Bristol University and moved into design and communications after gaining her degree. Her company is now ranked in the country's top 50 in public relations. She was one of the first 75 women invited to sign a banner to mark the launch of Emily's List, the campaign to raise money to boost female representation in Parliament.

"She is intelligent, fun and quite political," said one of Mr Brown's friends last night. "On top of that, she is attractive and successful. They are quite an item."

Steve Boggan