Senior Government minister Michael Gove and his journalist wife Sarah Vine are to split after almost twenty years of marriage, a joint spokesman for the couple said.
The high-profile couple married in October 2001 but have decided to end their relationship and are “in the process of finalising their divorce”.
A spokesman for Mr Gove, who is himself a former journalist, denied the divorce announcement was a pre-emptive strike before compromising news breaks about him.
The couple have said they will not be commenting further at this time.
So, who is Sarah Vine and why is she and Gove separating?
Who is Sarah Vine?
Sarah Vine, 54, has been a weekly newspaper columnist for The Daily Mail since 2013.
Previously, she worked as arts editor at The Times where she met Gove, from Scotland, who was working as comments editor in 1998.
They were married in 2001 in Vence, in the south of France, and the reception was held at a local chateau.
She previously described herself as a “child of Europe” having been born in Wales, living in Stourbridge and emigrating to Italy in the 1970s - and is able to speak four languages.
The pair went on to have two children, a daughter born in 2003 and a son born in 2004.
The family are seen as well connected in the Conservative Party, with Ms Vine a godmother to one of former prime minister David Cameron’s daughters.
But Samantha Cameron and Ms Vine are reported to have later fallen out over Mr Gove’s decision to campaign for Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum, with the result leading to Mr Cameron’s resignation from Downing Street.
During her time working as a journalist, Vine has faced controversies.
She made headlines over an email blunder in 2016 where she accidentally sent an email advising her husband on his meeting with fellow leave campaigner Boris Johnson to a member of the public.
The Guardian reported she told Gove not to guarantee his support for Johnson’s leadership bid without a specific job offer: “do not concede any ground, be your stubborn best.”
In 2020 she was accused of being ‘nihilistic’ after Tweeting about the pandemic: “We all have to die sooner or later. If I get Covid and cop it, so be it. My time has come.
“I'll have had a good life, better than most in this world at any rate. I certainly don't expect the entire nation to bankrupt itself to save my sorry ass.”
Her comments were called “flippant” and “pathetic” - as the death toll in August passed 46,000 people.
But her stance on schools has been praised in the past after the pair chose to send their daughter to Grey Coat Hospitalin Westminster after Vine called private schools snobby.
Why are the couple seperating?
A friend of the couple insisted the Gove-Vine split was “entirely amicable”, and that no third party was involved.
An anonymous friend told the Press Association: “This is a difficult and sad decision for Michael and Sarah after 20 years of marriage.
“It is an entirely amicable separation and there is no-one else involved.
“They have drifted apart over the past couple of years but they remain friends.
“Their absolute priority is the children.”
What did her Daily Mail column say?
Ms Vine, a columnist for the Daily Mail, wrote in a piece about former health secretary Matt Hancock’s resignation about how Westminster life can drive a wedge between partners.
Comparing the role played by Samantha Cameron to that of the Duchess of Cambridge in her relationship with Prince William, Ms Vine said her “former friend” had acted as her husband’s “barometer, his weather vane, his anchor” while in office.
She added that Samantha “had strict ground rules – date nights, no-go areas in his diary, certain non-negotiable events.”
Writing the Mail on Sunday, Ms Vine said: "She made sure he cooked, took care of the children, did his fair share. She never allowed the job to consume him, and she certainly never allowed it to consume her.
“And when she had had enough of living in the fishbowl, they left. Yes, he resigned over Brexit but in truth the decision to leave No 10 had already been made. And it was, in large part, hers.”
The journalist also suggested that political marriages come under pressure because of the risk that every senior politician “starts to believe your own hype”.
Michael Gove was not mentioned in his wife’s article, which instead praised David Cameron's ability to prioritise family life whilst in office.
She said: “Despite [Mr Cameron’s] years in power, she – and their children – never just became background noise, also-rans in his busy, important life. In a way that was unique among all the senior politicians I have ever known, he was absolutely brilliant at carving out time for his family.”
Ms Vine also wrote: “The problem with the wife who has known you since way before you were king of the world is that she sees through your facade.
“She knows your fears and your insecurities. She knows that, deep down inside, you are not the Master of the Universe you purport to be.”
Vine also considered the “aphrodisiac” of power for politicians: “Westminster is a place of myriad distractions for the politician seeking refuge from his or her home life.
“And when you feel disconnected like that, and because power is such an aphrodisiac, it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see how you can go from being happily married to the kind of person who gets caught so unfortunately on CCTV.”