New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will hand over the reins of power on Monday.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will hand over the reins of power on Monday. Manish Swarup

English set to become next NZ PM

BILL English has the numbers to become prime minister of New Zealand, based on public declarations.

Judith Collins has pulled out of the race and put her support behind Mr English.

Already 30 MPs have committed to backing Mr English, meaning he has at least half of the votes of National's 59-vote caucus.

The other contender, Jonathan Coleman, said reports Mr English had enough support were "outside speculation” and he would decide later whether to remain in the race.

"Clearly there is huge support behind Bill, and should he be the next prime minister I will totally support him,” said Mr Coleman, who had not yet received any public declarations of support.

A vote will be held on Monday.

Mr English said he appreciated Ms Collins's support. Whether Mr Coleman should withdraw was "a matter for Jonathan”, he said.

Outgoing PM John Key went on tour yesterday with one of the two National MPs who have put their hand up to be deputy PM, but would not say who he was backing for the role.

In one of his last commitments as the country's leader, Mr Key was with Transport Minister Simon Bridges in Auckland to launch two road construction projects.

On his arrival at a sod turning, Mr Key said Mr Bridges and Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett were both outstanding candidates. - NZ HERALD



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