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Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Brown stops the gossips
Gordon Brown and his new wife Sarah
Gordon Brown and his new wife Sarah
By News Online's political correspondent Nick Assinder

It's been one of the longest courtships ever seen in Westminster, but Gordon and Sarah have finally put the gossips out of their misery.

Some believed it would never happen and there had even been speculation recently that Ms Macaulay had been the victim of a "soft dumping".

And, without the chancellor's old spin-doctor Charlie Whelan around to stage photographs of romantic dinners, all the talk of marriage had subsided.

So, inevitably, all the old talk about Mr Brown's apparently perpetual batchelorhood had started up again.

The chancellor has always claimed to be deeply perplexed by all the attention on his personal life and did little to help those enquiring about his relationships and future intentions.

Sarah stays the course

Sue Lawley even went so far as to suggest, during his appearance on Desert Island Disks, that people might believe he was gay.

He bridled a little, but brushed it aside without committing himself to anything in regard to Ms Macaulay.

And, two years ago, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott even used his speech at the end of the Labour party conference to urge Mr Brown to finally name the day - to no apparent avail.

There had been a number of girlfriends in the past, but they all seemed to fall victim to his legendary work fixation.

And it appeared no-one could ever get his attention long enough to pursue a full-blown relationship - until Sarah came along in 1996. But even that was heavy going.

Family life fantasy

During his time with Mr Brown, Charlie Whelan did his best to keep the Mills-and-Boon storyline going, but he appeared to be fighting a losing battle.

He constantly spread rumours that the couple were on the verge of tying the knot, but even he finally gave up, once telling a friend in exasperation: "I've done everything I can."

But, despite the hiccups along the way, Sarah managed to last the course.

And, despite all the claims that this was a courtship of convenience, the couple were clearly more of an "item" than most had believed.

The cynics, of course, claim that if Mr Brown intends to become prime minister one day - which he undoubtedly does - he needs to be married.

And, as the Blair baby has proved, the nation loves nothing more than a bit of normal family life in Downing Street. It helps with the fantasy that the occupants are just like the rest of us.

For the moment, however, everyone wishes Gordon and Sarah well - even if they have killed off one of the best stories in Westminster.

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See also:

03 Aug 00 | UK
Browns head for honeymoon
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Message for Brown on family life
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Tears over Brown?
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