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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 December 2007, 17:37 GMT
The Lib Dems' new 'first lady'
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez and Nick Clegg
Mr Clegg said his Spanish improved after meeting his wife.
The Spanish wife of new Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is a high flying international lawyer.

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez met Mr Clegg while they were both studying in Belgium. They wed in September 2000 and have two young sons.

"I barely understood a word she said for the first weeks of our courtship but I thought she was magnificent," said the multi-lingual 40-year-old.

He says they fell in love despite their lack of a common language.

The couple's children speak Spanish and English.

According to The Times, raven-haired Ms Gonzalez Durantez, 39, left the civil service a year ago to become head of the international trade practice for multinational law firm DLA Piper.

Paternity leave

She had been an expert on the Middle East peace process at the Foreign Office.

She has also worked in Brussels for Chris Patten, then a European Commissioner and his successor Ferrero Waldner.

She currently works full time and according to the Daily Telegraph, returned to work very soon after the birth of their first child.

Mr Clegg has made it clear he believes fathers should get more time off when their children are born.

"When our first child was born, my wife, Miriam, went back to work much more quickly than I did," he said.

'Quite political'

"It's completely out of step with modern parenting to give women nine months paid maternity leave and fathers two weeks.

"I'd prefer a longer parental allocation which you can divide up as you like."

So what sort of role will the relatively unknown new Lib Dem leader's wife, whose mother Mercedes, is a teacher of chemistry and physics at a secondary school in the family's home town of Olmedo in central Spain, take?

According to people close to Mr Clegg she can be "quite political".

The role models

By keeping her own name, rather than taking her husband's, Ms Gonzalez Durantez seems to be following in the footsteps of Tony Blair's wife Cherie, who used the moniker Booth whenever she was working.

However, the public have yet to hear Miriam say anything of note and it is unclear whether she will become a high profile politician's wife, like Mrs Blair, or a fierce defender of her husband, like Elspeth Campbell, spouse of ex-Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies.

She may choose to follow in the footsteps of David Cameron's wife Samantha by being there and being seen, when work allows, but saying very little.

Or she could decide to emulate ex-PR guru Sarah Brown's example and give up work completely to devote her time to her husband, two small sons and her charity work.

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