Chris Huhne"s estranged wife Vicky extracts revenge on unfaithful husband
Hell hath no fury like a political wife scorned! How Chris Huhne”s estranged wife is extracting delicious revenge on her unfaithful husband
2:06 AM on 10th May 2011
Congratulations to Vicky Pryce, who has managed to reveal a few killer facts about her MP husband Chris Huhne. After 26 years of marriage and three kids, Vicky gave up her high-flying career as a top civil servant when Chris joined the Coalition Cabinet.
Chris then gave her about 26 minutes’ notice before he destroyed their own coalition and left her for his mistress.
Vicky had known nothing about the fact that, during the 2010 election campaign, Chris Huhne was having an affair with his researcher, Carina Trimmingham. Vicky was photographed on election night at Chris’s count, grinning at her husband’s side like every other proud political spouse.
Coalition that went sour: Chris Huhne left his Vicky after having an affair with his mistress – and now she is exacting revenge by writing a book
And for the past year, since the break-up, Vicky has behaved perfectly. She has been largely silent as she has been appointed to new high-powered directorships as a respected economist.
Now, she has made her first move — and Chris Huhne must be dreading what comes next. Perhaps it’s because her divorce is coming through, but she has suddenly announced she’s writing a book about her life with Chris.
The title is said to be Thirty Minutes To Kill The Story. It’s what her soon-to-be ex-husband said when he told her their marriage was over. A laughably insensitive and misguided attempt to enlist her help in saving his career.
Then, when asked a direct question by a Sunday newspaper journalist, she let slip that Chris once sought to avoid a speeding ban by asking someone else to take the penalty points (an allegation that Mr Huhne fiercely denies). No doubt there will be another revelation before long, another twist of the knife. What a brilliant game she is playing,
Is there anything more vengeful than a political wife scorned — the woman dumped without ceremony when her husband is nearing the top of the greasy political pole
Mistress: Researcher Carina Trimingham had an affair with Mr Huhne during the 2010 election campaign
This is the woman who for years, if not decades, has quietly helped her husband at constituency functions, been there with the crashing bores at party conferences, put in appearances for the local and national media when, on occasions, it’s the last thing she wanted to do.
When my husband Austin Mitchell — who was a TV personality in the 1970s — was selected to fight the Grimsby by-election for the Labour Party, I realised within 24 hours that for political wives being loyal and covering up for your husband’s indiscretions are a key part of the job. For some MPs’ wives, this role turns out to be a major factor in their husband’s glittering career.
We’d been married only a year when Austin stood for Parliament, but we had two children. No one in the constituency knew it at the time, but they’d both been born before we tied the knot. Just like Ed Miliband and Justine Thornton’s children.
Today, it wouldn’t matter. But in 1977, having an MP with two babies out of wedlock would have shocked voters of Grimsby and had them rushing to vote for the Tories.
The famous journalist and agony aunt Marje Proops was invited to the constituency to do a double-page spread on us. I was awake all night worrying about how to cope with her questions. How not to lie but still give the impression we’d been married for an eternity.
I failed miserably. In the fish and chip shop at lunchtime she asked me: ‘And how long have you been married, dear’ I froze. ‘Oh, simply ages,’ I croaked.
Perhaps she believed me, but more likely she let me off. She was a kind woman, and she gave me a sympathetic smile before moving on to questions about my twins. They were then eight years old.
Every political wife soon becomes adept at telling the little lies that keep the show on the road. He’s watching the telly on a Saturday night with a wine glass in his hand and an empty bottle on the floor and a reporter rings to ask a question on his least favourite topic. ‘He’s out at a meeting,’ you lie. ‘He’ll call you when he gets in.’
That’s the easy stuff. The real problem comes when he gets caught enjoying an extramarital relationship and the Press breaks the news to you.
Make your mind up: Robin Cook opted for his secretary and mistress Gaynor over his wife Margaret when his affair came to light during 1997
Over the 34 years that Austin’s been an MP, I’ve spent a long time training him and am pretty confident the Grimsby Telegraph is not about to come knocking.
But if it does happen, you can’t say what you really feel, of course. You are the one they’re laughing at. Older than the mistress, not as pretty as the mistress, and who cares that you might be the one earning the best salary at the same time as bringing up the kids.
In 1997, Robin Cook, the shiny new Foreign Secretary, was having an affair with his secretary Gaynor while his wife, a hospital doctor in his constituency, was at home bringing up their sons.
The Cooks were on their way to a horse-riding holiday in the U.S. via the VIP suite at Heathrow when the Sunday papers decided to run the story of Cook’s infidelity, and Labour Party press secretary Alastair Campbell rang Robin at the airport to tell him it was ‘make your mind up time’.
Cook opted for Gaynor, and told his wife Margaret there and then. His first words were: ‘I’m sorry, but the holiday’s off.’
At the time, I was writing a book, called Westminster Women, mainly about the arrival of Blair’s Babes. I got in touch with Margaret and asked if I could interview her.
I arrived in Edinburgh just a week or so after the holiday had been cancelled, and Margaret was still really shocked and hurt. We went out to dinner at the Witchery restaurant, because Robin had often been there but never with her.
In romantic candlelit surroundings, she poured out her story. Since the split she’d been completely alone with her two teenage sons, who were very, very shocked and she just didn’t know what to do.
We drank quite a bit of wine while she told me that since Robin became an MP she’d got very used to bringing up her kids alone. Her husband was away most of the time. He didn’t really pay anything towards their upkeep; she managed all the bills out of her own salary as a haematologist.
Confident: Linda McDougall is quite sure that the newspapers are not going to come knocking over an affair involving her husband, Labour MP Austin Mitchell
She had sort of been suspicious about what might be going on in London, but she’d hadn’t really wanted to know. She’d been relieved when he was made Foreign Secretary because she believed in her heart that if there was something going on, he would have to put paid to it in his new role. And then she was dumped.
We commiserated with each other all evening and swapped tales about what we had to put up with — the awful life of the MP’s wife. Then we went back to my hotel and started drinking Scotch. Eventually I poured her into a taxi.
I wrote up her story and sent it to her a few days later. She phoned me. Yes, it was all true, very accurate, but she tried to persuade me I should not print a word of it: after all, her husband was a politician and a Cabinet Minister.
Yes, he had dumped her but, astonishingly, she still believed she had to protect him. It was only much later, after she had found a new love, that Margaret Cook finally decided to write her own book about her unfaithful husband.
She got her revenge in the end.
Some of the MPs’ wives who have had to face up publicly to their husbands’ affairs have stood by them — often to be dumped later when the furore has died down. David Mellor even persuaded his wife and her parents to pose with him, to show that he’d been forgiven his affair with actress Antonia de Sancha. They were divorced soon afterwards.
Lord (Paddy Pantsdown) Ashdown was photographed smiling with his wife Jane, to show she had forgiven him an affair with his secretary. Pauline Prescott at least got herself a new career as a National Treasure and became Lady Prescott for putting up with the in-office philandering of husband John.
Vicky Pryce has done an enormous favour to all of us hard-working and much put-upon wives by simply and charmingly answering questions truthfully when asked. From now on, I, for one, intend to follow her excellent example.