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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Profile of Cherie Blair
Tony and Cherie
The Blairs have been married for 20 years
Ever since Tony Blair won the leadership contest for the Labour Party in the wake of the death of John Smith in 1994, his wife has been compared to Bill Clinton's wife Hillary.

Like Senator Clinton - as she is now known - Mrs Blair is a high-flying lawyer whose political ambition was put on the back burner in favour of her husband.

Other wives or husbands of prime ministers have kept much lower profiles than Mrs Blair.

But as well as juggling four children and a career she still finds time to accompany her husband on a good number of overseas trips.

She is also know to chair the odd seminar at Downing Street.

During her fourth pregnancy her busy pace continued until just before the birth of baby Leo - and she was aged 45 at the time.

Tony Booth, Una Stubbs and Warren Mitchell
Tony Booth, left, walked out on Cherie when she was a toddler
But amid all the positive images of the working mother Mrs Blair has hit the headlines on a number occasions in less than flattering circumstances.

For example, the press pounced on an embarrassing episode when she was fined for fare dodging after jumping on a train to Luton, where she was due to sit as a magistrate.

In the face of such attention, Mrs Blair has maintained her composure and let hardly a word slip into the public domain - a recent break with tradition about Palestinian suicide bombers proving the exception.

Cherie and ticket collector
Tickets please: Cherie shows her travel credentials
Born in 1954, Cherie Booth was brought up in a working class, Roman Catholic family in Bury, Lancashire.

Her father, the actor Tony Booth, who later became famous for his role in the BBC comedy Til Death Us Do Part, walked out when she was two.

He had children with a number of partners and recently Mrs Blair was said to have been "delighted" to discover that she had a half sister in Australia.

A hard-working and conscientious student, she earned a first in her law degree at the London School of Economics and came top of her year in the bar exams.

Cherie met Tony while they were both training to be barristers.

She was an active supporter of the Labour Party and it has been said Tony stepped up his involvement with the party to impress her.
Cherie Blair and Hillary Clinton
The Blairs have been closely compared to the Clintons

They married in 1980.

Mrs Blair fought and lost the no-hope seat of Thanet North in Kent at the 1983 general election.

In the same year her husband won his safe seat in Sedgefield, County Durham, and began the long climb to government.

After Bill Clinton ceased to be US president, Hillary famously became senator for New York.

What Mrs Blair chooses to do once her husband leaves Downing Street remains entirely a matter for speculation.

See also:

25 May 02 | Politics
08 Aug 00 | Politics
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