13 Feb 2018

'Very few serve for so long at such a high level' - Ardern

2:24 pm on 13 February 2018

Politicians across the spectrum have paid their respects to Bill English after he announced his plans to resign as leader of the opposition today.

National Party leader Bill English at a news conference at Lake Hayes near Queenstown.

National Party leader Bill English at Lake Hayes near Queenstown on the day the final voting numbers came in in last year's election. Photo: RNZ / Peter Newport

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern praised English's efforts in his roles as Prime Minister, deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and opposition leader.

"Very few serve for so long at such a high level, but garner the respect of many," she said in a statement released this afternoon.

"He has always stood for what he believes in. He is a man of clear convictions who has always had a genuine concern for the well-being of New Zealanders, and gave a huge portion of his working life to serving on their behalf.

She acknowledged the effect politics can have on family life.

"The impact of public service on a politician's family cannot be understated. In the 27 years Bill served as an MP, with the support of his wife Mary, his children were born, and grew up. They have made great sacrifices so he could do his job to the best of his ability."

Ms Ardern said she wished Mr English and his family "all the best for the future".

Former Prime Minister and National Party leader John Key also expressed his sadness at the news.

"Bill has given remarkable service to a party and a country he loves.

"His dry wit outstanding economic leadership and rolled Rs will be missed.

"Enjoy your new life mate."

Green Party leader James Shaw said Mr English should be congratulated for both his commitment and perseverance during his 27 years in Parliament.

He said he wished Mr English and his family all the best for the future.

Green MP and co-leader candidate Julie-Anne Genter tweeted that while she did not usually agree with Mr English on policy, she respected his openness to "thoughtful debate"

National deputy leader Paula Bennett said today was tinged with sadness for the National Party caucus.

Mrs Bennett said Bill English had incredible mana and all of the National Party caucus members had the utmost respect for him.

"He has led us so incredibly well and does such a great job with us, so we're going to miss him, and miss him a lot.

"And I just don't think New Zealand will ever fully appreciate, just the depth of his thinking, everything he's given to them.

"We're just so proud to have had him as our leader."

Act leader David Seymour congratulated Mr English on his political career.

"I want to thank him in particular for his support for charter schools and his commitment to engaging disadvantaged students who had been failed by state schools.

"Bill English is one of those rare MPs who comes to Parliament to studiously improve our country's public policy.

"He will be a loss to Parliament."