Kennedy to marry his long-term girlfriend this summer

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Indy Politics

Charles Kennedy announced his engagement to long-time girlfriend, Sarah Gurling.

The Liberal Democrat leader revealed he had popped the question in traditional style by going down on one knee at his Highland home over the New Year holiday.

As the beaming couple showed off a gold solitaire diamond engagement ring during a photocall, they said they planned to marry in London this summer.

"The ring was a collective decision," joked Mr Kennedy. "We didn't decide it by proportional representation." Mr Kenn-edy, 42, kissed his future bride for the cameras and revealed that when he first met Ms Gurling – a Liberal Democrat activist and PR executive for Camelot, the Lottery organiser – there had been a "very strong attraction at first sight."

He said that he had not asked Ms Gurling to marry him earlier because "there was a small item of a general election" which got in the way.

While the couple favour a traditional church wedding, Mr Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, was still "discussing" the denomination with his wife-to-be, who is Church of England.

Ms Gurling, who once stood as a councillor and whose brother helped the party leader in his leadership campaign, plans to continue her career.

She rejected suggestions she was a "steadying influence" on her fiancé who, before becoming party leader, was known as one of Westminster's more sociable MPs.

Mr Kennedy paid tribute to the "wonderful support" Ms Gurling, 31, had given him during the campaign.

There was speculation that the couple would marry during the election campaign, particularly when Ms Gurling looked on adoringly as Mr Kennedy read children's stories to a group of toddlers at a day nursery. Yesterday, they were coy on their plans for a family.