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Ministers back English to be PM

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/12/2016 Sean Martin
Bill English © Getty Bill English

Support is growing among the National Party for Bill English to become the next Prime Minister after the shock resignation of John Key.

Mr Key himself backed his deputy and finance minister for the top job during the announcement of his retirement on Monday.

But Mr English is yet to announce he will seek the nomination, saying he would speak to the party and his family before making a decision.

He has known about Mr Key's departure since September but said during a press conference just hours after the announcement that it was news to the rest of the caucus.

Members will come together on December 12 to choose their next leader, while Mr Key will tender his official resignation later that day.

Ministers Michael Woodhouse and Nathan Guy publicly offered their support for Mr English on Tuesday, as well as backbencher Nuk Korako.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins told NZ Newswire on Monday that she had not ruled out seeking the leadership.

Former party leader Don Brash says he believes Ms Collins has what it takes and would have his support.

While he may have ordained Mr English as his successor Mr Key says whoever the National caucus choose to replace him will have his unequivocal support.

He said announcing who he would be voting for was not him trying to tell the rest of the caucus what they should do.

"They need to make their own call and it's their future and they'll back the leadership team that's right for them," he told Newshub.

"They will have my 110 per cent support. I would back whoever is the leader.

"In the end the caucus decides.

In the 2002, Mr English led National to its worst ever general election defeat, with just 21 per cent of the vote.

But Mr Key said he had all the attributes to lead the party and the country after working closely with him over the last 10 years.

"There's a lot more than you see - everyone's style is different.

"It's really what's underneath the hood that matters. He's a thoroughly decent human being and would be a great prime minister."

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