Nick Clegg has insisted that he and David Cameron are both "absolutely committed" to their marriage.
The deputy prime minister dismissed talks of an early break-up of the marriage - or 'coalition', as many Conservatives prefer to call it - and praised his "remarkably radical" partnership with Cameron.
Claims that it was in either party's interests to "pull the plug" were wrong, he suggested, "because I've tried that - and believe me, it's extremely painful."
Clegg also said that the Liberal Democrats wouldn't try to "pull the wool over people's eyes... not unless it's 100% cashmere, anyway" by getting out of the marriage ahead of their planned divorce in 2015.
Many claim that the couple lead separate lives, each surrounded by their own supporters; while insiders say there is friction due to their inability to agree on issues such as Europe (David prefers to holiday in the UK; Nick likes Spain) and boundary changes (David likes to cook and won't allow Nick in the kitchen).
"As we head towards the election there will be increasing pressure on David and myself to act as party leaders. This is understandable, because we're both terrific at organising parties," Clegg conceded.
"In the meantime," he said, "we remain united on the central task. Which is pushing through gay marriage."
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