British opposition leader marries long-term partner

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The leader of Britain's main opposition Labour party married his partner in a low-key ceremony Friday viewed as a response to a controversy over his marital status.

Ed Miliband tied the knot with Justine Thornton at a hotel in Nottingham, central England, in front of 50 friends and family members including his brother, former foreign minister David Miliband.

Ed Miliband, who beat David to the job last year, faced criticism as the first leader of a major political party in Britain to live with his family out of wedlock.

He had previously insisted he would not be forced into it, telling one interviewer: "We'll get married because we want to get married and love each other very much, no other reason."

But in what was widely viewed as an attempt to defuse the criticism, the 41-year-old announced in May that he had proposed to Thornton, a lawyer whom he met in 2005 and with whom he has two young sons.

The groom sent a Twitter message on Friday to followers who had wished him well for the big day.

"Thanks for all the good wishes," wrote Miliband. "Really looking forward to the day. Feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be marrying Justine."

Despite speculation, it emerged that David did not act as the younger brother's best man after he decided against having one.

Labour, the centre-left party of former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, were ejected from power last year after 13 years in office.

David was the favourite in September's leadership election and was backed by the majority of the party's lawmakers and members, but Ed won thanks to the support of Labour's powerful trade union backers.

© 2011 AFP

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