International desk – New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has announced that he will resign as prime minister.
Eight years in the job, John Key called it “the hardest decision I’ve ever made,”.
“I don’t know what I’ll do next,” the prime minister said, according to BBC .
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is likely to take over until the National Party holds a caucus to choose a new premier.
Key, a popular leader, is stepping down at the request of his wife Bronagh, the New Zealand Herald reported.
He won a third term for the National Party at elections in September 2014. He said he would not be contesting the 2017 election.
Key made the announcement during his weekly press conference, citing family reasons for the surprise decision. He set a date of 12 December for the formal resignation.
He said his job required great sacrifices “from those who are dearest to me” and that his children had coped with “an extraordinary level of intrusion”.
“All I can say is that I gave it everything I had. I have left nothing in the tank.”
Key, who was formerly at Merrill Lynch as a foreign exchange dealer, ended nine years of Labour Party rule in 2008 when he ousted Helen Clark as prime minister.
Labour leader Andrew Little tweeted: “John Key has served New Zealand generously and with dedication. I wish him and his family the best for the future.”
Green Party co-leader Meteria Turei also wished him well.
“I fought every day against John’s politics but always supported his right to be a dad and a husband first,” she tweeted.
Known by the local media as “Teflon John” because very little controversy has stuck to him during his time in office, Key is credited with steering New Zealand through the 2008 global economic crisis and out of recession.
He has sought to build closer ties with the US, taking a leading role in supporting President Barack Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a 12 country trade deal covering 40 per cent of the world economy.