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Bill English Gets to Be New Zealand’s Prime Minister on Monday

John Key's pick will sail into the role next week, despite the fact he failed miserably last time he went for the job.

by Sasha Borissenko
08 December 2016, 8:54pm

New Zealand's soon-to-be Prime Minister, Bill English. Image via Twitter.

Just a few days shy of his eighth anniversary as Prime Minister, John Key shocked New Zealand by announcing his resignation on Monday, saying he had had a good run but he wanted to spend more time with his family. He unsurprisingly endorsed Deputy Prime Minister Bill English in the process, saying "Bill has, I believe, grown a great deal since he was last Party leader". English led the National Party into defeat in the 2002 election, with the party suffering its worst loss ever.

After the bombshell, it looked like we'd have to wait until Monday's emergency caucus meeting to find out who would be leading the country. Corrections Minister Judith Collins, known for her staunch policies around crushing boy racers' cars immediately announced she had her eye on the prize. Then Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, known for his views against the sugar tax, put his hat in the ring later that day. A brawl was on the cards.

While Crusher flies the conservative flag high, on inspection, Bill English—an active Catholic and father of six—tilts even further in a conservative direction, particularly on social policies. He's well known for his opposition to abortion, saying the Crown and parliament had "fallen short in our duty to protect the unborn child" in 1997. What's more he's not a fan of gay marriage, or weed, prostitution, and euthanasia. Collins is in the same boat as English on issues around cannabis, prostitution reforms and euthanasia, but the self-proclaimed "lifelong feminist" is pro-abortion. She is also pro-gay marriage, but voted against civil unions. Coleman has never spoken about euthanasia or prostitution reform, but he's pro-abortion and opposed to marriage equality and cannabis.

But irrespective of the huge lead up, Collins had pulled out of the race by Thursday saying she'd back English, despite throwing a punch at him for holding out on police funding. Hours later, Coleman was out with RNZ reporting 30 MPs were likely to back English come Monday's caucus meeting. What an anti-climax. "At the end of the day", English, who insists he's not boring, will lead the country.

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