PM John Key to leave the job on his own terms

EDITORIAL

Prime Minister John Key has dropped one of the biggest political bombshells in decades with his shock announcement that he is resigning virtually immediately, which brings to a sudden end one of the most amazing political careers in New Zealand.

The man brought up by his mother in a state house in Christchurch became a highly successful currency trader, entered Parliament in 2002 and was made National Party leader in 2006. He then went on to win three straight elections. It is a remarkable story almost unequalled in political history here. He has been a polarising figure, highly popular with a majority but drawing extreme invective from other sections of the community.

Conspiracy theorists will have a field day but there seems no reason to doubt his comment that his health and marriage are tickety-boo and he wanted to leave the job his way.

Key’s announcement was reportedly kept secret from just about everybody except his able deputy Bill English — even his staff found out only yesterday.

The big question is what will happen now.

Even allowing for a gracious tribute from party leader Andrew Little, it’d be a surprise if there was not a small celebration in Labour’s offices yesterday. Attention will now focus on National and who will be the new leader and prime minister, which will be known as early as next Monday.

Key has given his endorsement to Bill English — his able deputy who weathered the financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquake with him as they slowly steered the country into a small surplus.

But if any of the remaining Cabinet members want to make their move, now is probably the time. The new leader would almost certainly take the party into the next election. Will the likes of Judith Collins and Paula Bennett be tempted to seek the role, or will an outsider like Jonathan Coleman come through? It is probably going to be a busy few days in National’s caucus.

Whatever happens, Key will be his usual relaxed self, looking forward to having more family time and getting ready for life after politics.

Prime Minister John Key has dropped one of the biggest political bombshells in decades with his shock announcement that he is resigning virtually immediately, which brings to a sudden end one of the most amazing political careers in New Zealand.

The man brought up by his mother in a state house in Christchurch became a highly successful currency trader, entered Parliament in 2002 and was made National Party leader in 2006. He then went on to win three straight elections. It is a remarkable story almost unequalled in political history here. He has been a polarising figure, highly popular with a majority but drawing extreme invective from other sections of the community.

Conspiracy theorists will have a field day but there seems no reason to doubt his comment that his health and marriage are tickety-boo and he wanted to leave the job his way.

Key’s announcement was reportedly kept secret from just about everybody except his able deputy Bill English — even his staff found out only yesterday.

The big question is what will happen now.

Even allowing for a gracious tribute from party leader Andrew Little, it’d be a surprise if there was not a small celebration in Labour’s offices yesterday. Attention will now focus on National and who will be the new leader and prime minister, which will be known as early as next Monday.

Key has given his endorsement to Bill English — his able deputy who weathered the financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquake with him as they slowly steered the country into a small surplus.

But if any of the remaining Cabinet members want to make their move, now is probably the time. The new leader would almost certainly take the party into the next election. Will the likes of Judith Collins and Paula Bennett be tempted to seek the role, or will an outsider like Jonathan Coleman come through? It is probably going to be a busy few days in National’s caucus.

Whatever happens, Key will be his usual relaxed self, looking forward to having more family time and getting ready for life after politics.

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