Chancellor unveils his child benefit

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The Iron Chancellor is to become a doting dad. Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah, disclosed last night that they are expecting a baby in February.

The workaholic Chancellor, who announced in this year's Budget that fathers would be given the right to two weeks' paid paternity leave from 2003, will take time off and intends to be present at the birth. He will, though, interrupt his leave to deliver his Budget next March.

Mr Brown, 50, married Sarah Macaulay, 37, who runs a public relations consultancy, in August last year. They hope the baby will be born in Mr Brown's native Scotland. A spokesman said: "As you would expect, they are absolutely delighted. Both their families are thrilled with the news.".

MPs were joking that Mr Brown had reached the "post-euphoria, pre-delivery stage", as Downing Street once described the voters' mood on public service reforms. MPs also noted that the baby was probably conceived in the run-up to the general election, when Mr Brown headed the Labour campaign.

There was speculation that Mr Brown's baby could only boost his prospects of becoming Prime Minister by enhancing his appeal when Tony Blair stands down.

Aides said Mr Brown had no plans to change his domestic arrangements despite the new arrival. The Chancellor handed over his flat above 11 Downing Street, his official residence, to the Blair family and took over a smaller flat above Number 10. But the Browns sleep there rarely, preferring his own flat in Westminster.