Brown throws Prudence to the wind and will wed Sarah

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Indy Politics

And we thought he had eyes for only Prudence. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, stunned Westminster last night by announcing he will marry his girlfriend, Sarah Macaulay, today.

And we thought he had eyes for only Prudence. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, stunned Westminster last night by announcing he will marry his girlfriend, Sarah Macaulay, today.

Revealing a secret that has been more strictly kept than most Budgets, his office said he would marry the PR consultant in a church ceremony in his Dunfermline East constituency. It will be conducted by a Church of Scotland minister and the reception will be "a small family event". The couple will hold a party for friends and colleagues when they return from honeymoon next month.

In a statement that was guaranteed to break the hearts of the many female admirers of his Heathcliffian good looks, Mr Brown said: "We are absolutely delighted and very happy."

Government sources said Mr Brown, 49, had proposed to Ms Macaulay, 36, in January and the couple had fixed a date for the wedding shortly afterwards. They had managed to keep the date private even though the announcement of the impending wedding had been displayed in the normal way in the parish where the ceremony will take place.

Mr Brown and Ms Macaulay, a partner in a PR consultancy, began their relationship in 1994 and within months newspaper diarists were claiming they were engaged. Yet, despite reports that Ms Macaulay had popped the question in a leap year, there were few clues until a photograph was taken of the couple dining at an apparently secluded restaurant in Soho.

The photograph, which appeared in the News of the World shortly before his first Budget in 1997, was set up by Charlie Whelan, Mr Brown's former spin-doctor. Proof of the staged- managed nature of the snap became clear with the discloure later that the pair had to resit because the photographer had run out of film.

Speculation about a possible engagement had been a constant of Westminster gossip, reaching a peak when John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister, called on Mr Brown at the 1998 Labour Party conference to make an honest woman of his partner. Yet the relationship appeared to have gone quiet in recent months and even cabinet ministers suspected the couple had split up.

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