English to resign as leader of National, leave parliament on Feb. 27
By Sophie Boot
Feb. 13 (BusinessDesk) - Bill English has resigned as leader of the National Party and will leave parliament in two weeks.
His resignation will take effect on Feb. 27 and he will give a valedictory speech on March 1. By Feb. 27, English said he would expect the caucus would have chosen a new leader. He said he did not have a preferred successor, and would "just have a vote like everyone else in the process".
"I think it's the role of the caucus to choose one. I'm not endorsing anybody," he said.
"This is a caucus who did me an enormous favour by executing a very civil and successful transition when John Key unexpectedly left," English said. English said he had spoken to senior colleagues, including deputy leader Paula Bennett and Steven Joyce, about his intention to leave about a week ago, but hadn't told caucus as it would have been a major distraction for the caucus when it was discussing the result of the 2017 election.
Rumours of English's planned departure first hit the media at the end of January, as English prepared to give his 'state of the nation' speech. At the time, English said he was not planning to leave.
English said his leaving would give the party the best chance to prepare for the 2020 election. He thanked the public for its support and his parliamentary colleagues, as well as the National Party for the "trust and support" they had given him. He also thanked his electorate of Clutha-Southland and his family.
English said it was a purely personal decision, and he was satisfied he would have had the support of his caucus through to 2020.
"It crystallised over the summer period when I spent the first time in a long time with no political concerns, nothing to think about for the next Cabinet meeting, and spent more time with my family," English said. "I want the opportunity to be able to start again in a new life and for my family to be able to live without politics."