Nick Clegg denies harnessing his wife’s popularity for his own ambitions


Nick Clegg has denied wishing to use the popularity of his wife Miriam González Durántez to enhance the Liberal Democrats’ electoral fortunes in the couple’s first joint interview.

In an article in Red magazine, the deputy prime minister acknowledged the Spanish lawyer’s connection with the public but added that he also has a “great fan base”.

Asked if her popularity was an issue, he said: “We’re husband and wife … I don’t think of Miriam as some sort of PR seesaw. It would literally never occur to me.”

In November, the Liberal Democrat leader’s approval rating was just 12 points better than its -65 low in May, after the party lost all but one of its 11 MEPs in the European parliament election.

During the same month, the party lost its deposit and came fifth behind the Greens in the Rochester byelection.

In the article Clegg also discusses the moment when he first fell in love when they were students in Bruges: “It was total thunderbolt stuff, it really was.

“[She was wearing] this dark green velvet thing. And you had what I thought were these quite funny sort of brogue-y shoes on … And I was this pimply Brit, trying to impress her.”

González Durántez, a partner of international legal practice Dechert, has been widely described as an electoral asset to Clegg. She has steered clear of the stereotypical role of a politician’s wife, by refusing to trail along during lengthy campaigns.

When Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron became increasingly involved in the 2010 general election campaign, González Durántez said that she would be “willing to help” but would be unable to take weeks off from her work and her family life.

González Durántez was also asked by the magazine how much the fallout from Clegg’s unpopularity has affected her. She refused to be drawn, adding: “It would be much more trouble if I was unable to put it in perspective at night ... Whatever has happened, it’s not the end of the world.”

Powered by article was written by Rajeev Syal, for The Guardian on Friday 2nd January 2015 00.05 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010