National Party Leader Bill English has today announced he will resign as Leader of the National Party and leave parliament.
Bill says his resignation as leader will take effect on February 27 and that he intends to deliver his valedictory speech on March 1.
“It's been an enormous privilege to serve New Zealanders since being elected to Parliament in 1990," he says.
“Over 27 years I have been privileged to work alongside so many people to improve our country. I am proud of the innovative work done as a Health Minister in the 90's, and then as Finance Minister through the GFC, helping to stabilise and grow the economy and to rebuild Christchurch.
“In recent years I enjoyed the development of Social Investment and new ways of the Crown working with Māori to make a real difference, and I was honoured to lead New Zealand as Prime Minister.
“National's two-day caucus meeting last week confirmed to me that our team has the talent, the ideas and the energy to return to government in 2020. It's important that National's new Leader has the time and the best possible opportunity to achieve that.
“So I believe now is the right time to step aside and to embark on new personal and professional opportunities.
“I've served with some outstanding politicians and I want to thank my parliamentary colleagues and the National Party for the trust and support they have given me.
Bill English expects the new leadership team will be ready to go when he formally steps down on Feb 27— Chris Bramwell (@ChrisBramwell) February 12, 2018
“I'm also indebted to the people and communities of Clutha-Southland - and before that Wallace - who sent me to Parliament and kept me grounded for so many years.
“To our supporters, thank you for keeping your faith in us through nine years in government, and through the change of government. I know that our MPs will continue to represent your ambition for New Zealand.
“Most importantly I would like to thank my family. Mary and our children, Luke, Thomas, Maria, Rory, Bart and Xavier.
“For all our time together we have lived with demands of public service. Your strength and tolerance has enabled my career. You have been my inspiration and pride and I now look forward to a new life together.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has paid tribute to outgoing National Party Leader Bill English.
“Bill has worked tirelessly as Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and Opposition Leader among his many public roles. Very few serve for so long at such a high level, but garner the respect of many.
“He has always stood for what he believes in. He is a man of clear convictions who has always had a genuine concern for the well-being of New Zealanders, and gave a huge portion of his working life to serving on their behalf," says Jacinda.
“The impact of public service on a politician's family cannot be understated. In the 27 years Bill served as an MP, with the support of his wife Mary, his children were born, and grew up. They have made great sacrifices so he could do his job to the best of his ability.
“I wish Bill and his family all the best for the future."