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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 10:44 GMT
Cheeky love 'not lust', says Opik
Lembit Opik and the Cheeky Girls
Mr Opik said his relationship was 'not some sort of joke'
Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik has insisted his love for Cheeky Girls singer Gabriela Irimia is based on a "meeting of minds" rather than "lust".

Talking to Hello magazine, Mr Opik admitted they were "the oddest couple in Britain", but said the relationship was "not some sort of joke".

The Lib Dem Northern Ireland and Wales spokesman met Ms Irimia after he split from weather presenter Sian Lloyd.

Mr Opik told Hello he was "scared" of the Cheeky Girls' mother Margit.

He said there had been "absolutely no overlap" with his previous relationship with Ms Lloyd, to whom he was engaged for two years.

'More trendy'

Mr Opik, known for his harmonica-playing and warnings of asteroids colliding with earth, said: "It wasn't on my to-do list to date a Cheeky Girl...

"Our relationship is not based on lust; it's primarily a relationship of intellect, a meeting of minds, and I find that really interesting and attractive."

Lembit Opik MP
Mr Opik has inspired a mobile phone-based love song

Hello remarks that a "more trendy Lembit" - who poses in a variety of waistcoats, a leather jacket and a diamond-pattern jumper for a photo shoot in rural north Wales - has emerged.

However, it adds: "They might appear ill-matched - her youthful good looks and trademark ponytail extension contrasting with his cropped grey hair and lop-sided smile."

Miss Irimia, 24, is said to be dedicating her next single - Text Me I Love You - to the Montgomeryshire MP.

She said: "I found him really interesting, smart, delicate and funny - he tells jokes all the time. He's a gentleman and is very protective."

'Down to Margit'

Mr Opik, 41, said he hoped the media would "overcome their concerns about the age gap".

On first meeting his girlfriend's "formidable" mother Margit at the family home in Rye, East Sussex, he added: "I was scared, yes, and frankly I still am.

"This woman is very strong-minded and very protective of her daughters - though in a wholly good way."

Ms Lloyd has accused her former fiancÚ of not being capable of maintaining an adult relationship.

Mr Opik told Hello: "I hope I don't lose my sense of child-like wonder.

"I get excited by flying an aeroplane, seeing a great film, having a long game of chess, playing the harmonica, meeting new people..."

The MP has donated his fee from Hello to charity.

'Passionate and committed'

In a separate article in the same issue of Hello, Ms Lloyd said of Mr Opik's new relationship: "It's a panto... and I think because the slapstick has continued, it's peeled away some layers of hurt for me, and makes the whole thing easier to deal with."

Asked if he would play harmonica on future Cheeky Girls recordings, he said: "I care enough about Gabi not to ruin their sales!

"If the Cheeky Girls ever bring out a country & western album, I may play a small role in it... but don't hold your breath.

"I'm as passionate and committed as ever about politics."

In the Commons last week, MPs shouted "Who's a cheeky boy?" as Mr Opik, who became an MP in 1997, rose to speak.

He responded: "I think honourable members should leave any cheeky business completely to me."

The Cheeky Girls arrived in the UK from Romania in 2002 and shot to fame with their unsuccessful auditions in the reality TV show Popstars: The Rivals.

Their first single The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum) reached number two in the charts.


SEE ALSO
MP intervened in Cheeky Girl case
20 Dec 06 |  UK Politics
Cheeky Girl's 'love' for MP Opik
19 Dec 06 |  UK Politics
Debut single for Lib-Dem MP
16 Dec 02 |  Wales

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