New Zealand prime minister John Key has announced a shock resignation because of family pressure.
Key made the announcement at his weekly press conference this afternoon.
According to New Zealand, The Herald, the prime minister bowed out because his wife Bronagh asked him to do so.
Key, his voice shaking with emotion, said he told his Cabinet of his decision this morning.
“This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made and I don’t know what I’ll do next.”
Key cited family reasons for leaving, saying the job had required great sacrifices “from those who are dearest to me”.
His wife Bronagh had endured “many lonely nights” and his children Stephie and Max had been put under “extraordinary levels of intrusion”.
Key met his wife Bronagh while attending Burnside High School. The pair married in 1984 and have two children, Stephie and Max.
“Bronagh has made a significant sacrifice during my time in politics, and now is the right time for me to take a step back in my career and spend more time at home.”
Bill English is expected to take over as Prime Minister and Steven Joyce is expected to take on the finance role.
The National Party caucus will hold a meeting on December 12 to decide the new party leader and Prime Minister.
Key said he would support whoever the caucus chose, but he endorsed Bill English as his replacement.
“Whoever the caucus votes for will have my unwavering support, but if Bill English puts his name forward then I will vote for him.
“For 10 years now Bill and I have worked closely as a team. I have witnessed first-hand his leadership style, his capacity for work, his grasp of the economy, his commitment to change and most of all his decency as a husband, as a father, a colleague and as a politician.”
Key said there is no way he could have serve out a full fourth term.
“I do not believe that if I was asked to commit to serving out a full fourth term I could look the public in the eye and say yes.
“And more than anything else in my time here, I have tried to be straight and true with New Zealanders.
“Making the decision to resign has not been easy, and I have no plans as to what comes next in my professional life.”
Key said he was looking forward to enjoying a slightly quieter life in and spending time travelling with his spouse.
Key said he was “a commercial guy” and was likely to take up board positions, possibly with companies in Australia.
Unlike his predecessor Helen Clark, he “definitely” had no interest in international politics or a United Nations job.
Key said he could continue living in Auckland and had no plans to move overseas.
He said leaders seemed to stay too long and he felt this was the opportunity to go out on top.
He also said it was the right time to leave, as National were polling at nearly 50 per cent and the economy was growing.