Ex-Prime Minister Bill English has stepped down as leader of the National Party.
English announced his departure at a press conference today in parliament. He will resign and leave parliament on Tuesday the 27th.
English said it had been a "huge privilege" to serve as leader of the National Party. The decision to step down had been a personal one, he said.
Questions around the leadership of the party have been circulating for around a month, since National failed to negotiate a coalition government despite winning more votes than Labour in the last election. Speculation ramped up again when English was 20 minutes late to the party’s caucus meeting, and then was unusually sharp with reporters asking about a possible step-down.
“Well I don’t have anything to say about it at the moment, that’s what I meant,” English told reporters.
“I have nothing to say about it at the moment.”
He then abruptly walked away from the media to the caucus room.
National will pick a new leader between now and the 27th. According to political commentators, one front-runner for the new leadership is Simon Bridges, with a possible deputy of Amy Adams. Nikki Kaye’s name has tossed around, but she falls well left of the more conservative wings of the party.