Bill English steps down as National leader
Bill English has officially stepped down as leader of the National Party.
The announcement came in press conference in Wellington at 11:30am on Tuesday morning.
It's been a pleasure to serve in Parliament.
"It’s been a huge privilege to lead the party and to serve in politics since I was first elected to Parliament just over 27 years ago," he said.
Bill English thanked his supporters for "keeping the faith" through nine years of a National government.
"It’s been an absolute pleasure to lead a party that represented you and your values, and your ambitions for New Zealand."
Suspicion grew when Mr English was 20 minutes late to National's weekly caucus meeting. His wife, Mary, and two sons Xavier and Rory were also at Parliament this morning.
I've decided that now is the time for me to step aside…
He shed tears at the back end of his resignation speech.
"I've come to work every day with a sense of mission," he said.
The tears came as he thanked his wife Mary and his six children.
"For all our time together we have lived with demands of public service," he said.
"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."
Earlier, when Mr English was asked whether he was late because he was writing his resignation speech, he said "I've got nothing to say about that at the moment."
Newshub political reporter Lloyd Burr previously told The AM Show there's "no way" Mr English would lead the National Party into the next election.
"This is something that's been talked about for quite a long time," Burr told The AM Show.
"There have been discussions going on since the last election.”
Listen to Bill English speak to RadioLIVE Drive's Ali Mau above.