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Bill English steps down as National Party Leader

The Southland politician is stepping aside from the leadership.

A tearful Bill English has announced that he is stepping down as leader of the National Party and leaving Parliament.

Surrounded by his wife and some of his children at Parliament, he announced today that his resignation would take place at the end of February.

English, 56, said he was proud of his work in health, rebuilding the economy after the global financial crisis and helping rebuild Christchurch.

"I want to thank those many people who voted for us in the 2017 election and particularly for the broad public support since the change of government."

He thanked his family for their support.

Bill English with wife Mary.
Bill English with wife Mary.

Taking a moment to wipe his tears, he said his wife Mary and their children, Xavier, Bart, Rory, Luke, Maria and Thomas had a huge part to play in his success.

"Through all that time together as a family we have lived with the demands of public service. Your strength and tolerance has enabled my career. I now look forward to our new life together."

Bill English  and his wife Mary with Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, her husband Sir David Gascoigne and the English children (from left) Xavier, Bart, Rory, Luke, Maria and Thomas.
Bill English and his wife Mary with Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, her husband Sir David Gascoigne and the English children (from left) Xavier, Bart, Rory, Luke, Maria and Thomas.

English became Prime Minister after John Key stepped down as National Party leader ahead of the 2017 election. Although National received the highest party vote in the election they did not receive enough to govern alone.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged the contribution Bill English had made to politics and sent him her best wishes.

The National Party will now go through a process to elect a new party leader.