Corin Dann's analysis: Bill's gone – so, which National MPs will put their hands up now?

1 NEWS' Corin Dann says it may take some time for leadership hopefuls to put themselves forward, but predicts two to four hopefuls will throw their hat in the ring for National's top spot. 

The National Party stalwart paid a touching tribute to his biggest supporters as he resigned from Parliament this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

He said Tauranga MP Simon Bridges could be a front running possibility. 

The Transport Minister says he had a heads up Martin Matthews was going.
Source: 1 NEWS

After John Key stepped down as Prime Minister in 2016, Bill English and Paula Bennett were elected unopposed as a team to lead the country, but Bridges did make an unsuccessful run at the deputy PM's position.

The Jacinda-effect claims another victim with Mr English deciding he’s not the man to lead National forward. Source: 1 NEWS

Amy Adams, who stood with Bill English in January, when he was quashing leadership speculation, could also be among those vying for the job.

Ms Kaye says she had not been contacted by other caucus MPs over a leadership change. Source: 1 NEWS

Nikki Kaye and Jonathan Coleman, and even Steven Joyce and Paula Bennet could also take a shot. 

Dann suggested wild card options of Mark Mitchell and Todd Muller.

"I think you'll just see a lot of jockeying as they look to see who has the numbers."

1 NEWS Political Editor Corin Dann runs the ruler over National’s potential new leaders. Source: 1 NEWS



Court to hear expert evidence on lethal drug in trial of woman accused of assisting suicide

The trial of Susan Austen, who is accused of assisting her friend in committing suicide, will today hear expert evidence about the drug Pentobarbitone.

Pentobarbitone is only legal to use in New Zealand to put down animals.

The crown alleges Susan Austen imported the drug from Mexico and China, knowing it would be used for suicide.

Annemarie Treadwell, 77, was found dead in her retirement home in Wellington in June 2016. Her cause of death was Pentobarbitone poisoning. 

Prior to her death she was said to be suffering from arthritis and memory loss.

Mrs Treadwell's GP is currently giving evidence at the High Court in Wellington.

Dr Lorna McCaan told the court she last saw Mrs Treadwell in 2015 and she had begun to complain of feeling more achy.

"She was feeling more tired and more miserable. She wasn't getting out much. She said she was making herself do things to seem OK, but she was actually feeling miserable inside."

The doctor spoke to her about increasing her anti-depressants.

Mrs Treadwell suffered depression for most of her life. She also had chronic pain and arthritis.

A veterinarian is due to give evidence today about Pentobarbitone and its use. A toxicologist will also give evidence.

Austen has pleaded not guilty to one charge of assisting suicide and two charges of importing a class C drug.

A group of about ten supporters sat in the public gallery today, wearing red in support of Austen. They blew kisses and waved to her as she sat in the dock.

The trial is set down for three weeks. 

Susan Austen is accused of helping a 77-year-old woman, who was suffering from health issues, commit suicide.
Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
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As it happened: Bill English steps down as leader of the National Party - so who will take the reins?

12.05pm: Rounding up Bill English's resignation as leader of the National Party:

- he will also leave Parliament entirely at the end of the month, February 27.

The Jacinda-effect claims another victim with Mr English deciding he’s not the man to lead National forward. Source: 1 NEWS

- Mr English says he will not be endorsing a successor as leader, but will just have a single vote.

12.02pm: Mr English has ended his press conference and Deputy National leader Paula Bennett gives a short tribute to Mr English saying "today is tinged with saddness" and that people should appreciate the "depth" of his political thinking.

1 NEWS Political Editor Corin Dann runs the ruler over National’s potential new leaders. Source: 1 NEWS

"We're going to miss him, and miss him a lot," Ms Bennett said.

"I don't think New Zealand will ever appreciate the depth of his thinking."

She would not answer questions if she was planning to run for leader.

11.58am: Mr English says much has changed during his three decades in politics - in particular the speed of the modern news cycle.

11.53am: "I'm not a great believer in legacies," Mr English says of his long spell in politics. 

11.53am: Mr English says he wants a "life outside politics", both personally and in business. He also wishes to spend more time with his wife Mary and their children.

11.51am: "Serving as Prime Minister is certainly the highlight, no doubt about that," Mr English says.

"My view about what you do in politics is that you need to be satisfied yourself about what you do."

11.49am: Jacinda Ardern has responded on Twitter to news of Bill English's resignation:

11.47am: Mr English says there's been more "ups and downs" during his political career than most. 

The Jacinda-effect claims another victim with Mr English deciding he’s not the man to lead National forward. Source: 1 NEWS

11.45am: Mr English said he is not endorsing a candidate for the National leadership, and will just have a vote. Joking, he says he will enjoy his colleagues coming to him to ask for his vote.

11.43am: The decision was "personal" Mr English said, and came to him over the summer break as he spent time with his family with no political ambitions in particular on his mind - an unusual experience for him.

11.41am: Mr English chokes up towards the end of his statement as he reflects on the sacrifice of his family and wife for his political career.

11.38am: "I believe this will give National’s new leader the time and best possibly opportunity to prepare the party for the 2020 election," Mr English said, reading from his statement.

Mr English said being leader had been a "huge privilege".

11.35am: Mr English said he will also be leaving Parliament.

11.30am: Bill English has this morning stepped down as leader of the National Party, just three months after the loss of the 2017 general election.

Mr English made the announcement just before midday today, after holding a press conference in the Parliament Buildings in Wellington.

Mr English spent 14 months as the National leader, taking over from John Key as the 39th Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Leader Bill English says the party will use the time to work on policies to help businesses and the economy.
Source: 1 NEWS

11.20am: National leader Bill English is holding an unscheduled press conference which 1 NEWS understands will be to discuss his leadership of the National Party.

It comes after the National caucus held a weekend retreat in Tauranga to discuss the direction of the party, and Mr English's leadership.

On the last day of January this year, a story broke with unnamed MPs questioning Mr English's leadership and calling for change.

A major source of concern was the performance and personality of deputy leader Paula Bennett and Mr English's antagonistic relationship with Winston Peters, whom he'd pushed to the brink, making it all-but impossible to form a Coalition government.

Nikki Kaye, Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Judith Collins would be among the leading candidates to take over from Mr English as National's leader.

The National Party stalwart paid a touching tribute to his biggest supporters as he resigned from Parliament this morning. Source: 1 NEWS