Chancellor splashes out for his party

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Indy Politics

His wedding could not have been a more frugal affair - conducted in his front room with the curtains drawn and Sainsbury's champagne for the guests.

His wedding could not have been a more frugal affair - conducted in his front room with the curtains drawn and Sainsbury's champagne for the guests.

But yesterday the Chancellor drew back the curtains, tossed prudence to the wind and held a lavish party, with some of Britain's most influential figures, to celebrate his marriage to Sarah Macaulay.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Tony Blair and Ben Elton were among those to make it on to London's most sought-after guest list. The Labour gliterati joined actors, journalists and intellectuals at a fashionable London gallery to toast the future happiness of the Chancellor and his new wife.

Former foes, including Peter Mandelson - who sent his regrets from Chicago where he was speaking - and Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, were among those to receiveinvitations.

Mr Mandelson, who received his invitation before the news emerged that he was ready to back Gordon Brown as a future prime minister, is understood to have been surprised.

Politicians and reporters seen as helpful to the Chancellor were also admitted to the exclusive party, whose precise location was kept secret until the doors opened last night.

The Chancellor and the new Mrs Brown arrived at the Jerwood Space Gallery in south London at 6.35pm, well before many of the guests.

She wore a cream chiffon knee-length dress and lilac chiffon shawl, her husband stuck to his characteristic navy blue suit, white shirt and dark tie.

Mr Blair arrived in an official car accompanied by his wife, Cherie, who wore a knee-length white jacket with matching flared trousers. The film producer Lord Puttnam and the former Labour leader Neil Kinnock joined part colleagues including John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Paymaster General, Dawn Primarolo, at the party.

Last night's celebrations showed the Chancellor knows when to leave concerns about fiscal responsibility locked away in his Budget box.

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