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No immediate leadership call by English

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/12/2016

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says he never anticipated he would be considering a move to the top job.

But after the resignation of Prime Minister John Key he's "not ruling it out" and will discuss the decision with National's caucus and his family.

"I just never imagined being in this situation, so I'm not ruling it out but we've got discussions to be had. I don't think anyone anticipated this turn of events," he said, addressing previous claims he didn't want to be PM.

Mr Key has backed his deputy and finance minister to succeed him in the leadership going into next year's general election.

Mr English, who has known about Mr Key's intentions to stand down since September, told reporters the caucus had only known about Mr Key's decision for a few hours.

He wanted to give it time to think the issues through.

Mr English was among the first to honour the departing leader after he publicly announced his decision on Monday.

"Through good times and bad, his strong leadership has been steadfast and this is a more confident, successful and self-assured country because of his contribution. He has truly made a difference," Mr English said in a statement.

He later added that he was disappointed.

"Not disappointed in him, but disappointed that a working environment that's been so positive, a style of leadership that's been confident and politically successful, that that could come to an end," he said.

"From day one we've had in our whole 10 years very little tension and that's made (him) a pleasure to work alongside. I will certainly miss that."

He said it was a tribute to Mr Key's leadership that he left behind a united team with plenty of talent to take New Zealand forward.

Mr Key himself said in announcing his resignation that there were a number of talented people who could stand for leadership.

He said he would vote for Mr English if given the opportunity and they had made a strong leadership team together for the last decade.

Mr English was previously leader of the National Party from 2001 to 2003.

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