Rumours WERE true: Ardern had been dogged by speculation about future

The rumours WERE true: How Jacinda Ardern has been dogged by speculation she was about to quit as PM and trade role in for a quiet life in the countryside with fiancé Clarke

  • Jacinda Ardern had recently denied she was quitting
  • Rumours had repeatedly claimed  she would stand down
  • She insisted in October that she wasn’t ‘going anywhere’ 
  • On Thursday she said she ‘no longer had enough in the tank’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern repeatedly denied she would quit before the next general election despite consistent rumours she was on her way out.

The Kiwi Labour leader stunned the world on Thursday by announcing she will quit on February 7 at the latest after five years in charge. 

But the rumour mill began in earnest back in October when government circles exploded with gossip Ardern, 42, was set to step down.

She angrily hit back at the speculation at the time, and categorically insisted she would stay and fight the October 2023 election despite plummeting polls.

‘I’ve heard this,’ the Kiwi PM said in a radio interview at the end of last October. ‘This rumour has floated around my entire time five years in government. 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern repeatedly denied she would quit before the next general election despite consistent rumours she was on her way out

‘I have no plans to change my role as leader, I am not going anywhere. I’ve said this on the show a number of times.

‘Rumours circulate and it’s just part of the role but this is not the first time I’ve had this one and it did come up the last election as well. 

‘I am the Labour leader and I have no plans on changing that.’

She also dismissed speculation she and her partner Clarke Gayford were set to quit the rat race for a new quiet life in rural New Plymouth on North Island’s west coast.

She added: ‘While I am here might I also dismiss the rumour that I am relocating to New Plymouth, as lovely as it is, I am not intending to move either.’ 

The leader has enjoyed greater popularity overseas than at home in the face of harsh Covid lockdowns during the pandemic and soaring inflation and cost of living.

But the PM said she faced similar rumours ahead of the 2017 election when a whisper campaign claimed she was too sick to be Prime Minister.

‘I think that’s reflecting a time when I had an unfortunate complication with tonsillitis – something called quinsy,’ she added.

‘That was the basis on which that started. New Zealand, in different forms, gets plagued by gossip and hearsay, and I am happy to bat back on things like that. 

‘But ultimately what I hope is people will see me for who I am.

‘I’m upfront, I address problems as they arise, I’m someone who has enough courage to be in politics in the first place, let alone taking on this job under these exceptional circumstances.

‘I am robust enough for this job.’

She also dismissed speculation she and her partner Clarke Gayford (pictured) were set to quit the rat race for a new quiet life in rural New Plymouth on North Island’s west coast

On Thursday though she admitted she no longer had the ‘heart and energy’ to continue in the role. 

Her resignation comes into effect on Sunday if the Labour Party can elect her replacement, or on February 7 if the process was drawn out.

‘I am human. Politicians are human. We give all we can for as long as we can – and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time,’ she said.

‘I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.’

New Zealand political analyst Grant Duncan said the seeds had been sown for Ardern’s resignation last year when Labour changed its leader selection process.

He said it was now easier for the party to elect a replacement for her. 

But he added: ‘It’s also not a surprise because although she’s done a fantastic job, she hasn’t really had the career as prime minister that she would have wanted. 

‘A lot of that has to do with being derailed by Covid which affected every government in the world. 

‘She did a great job of leading the country through that, but I think it’s derailed her Prime Ministership,’ he told ABC News

‘It has led to a lot of controversy and ill feeling about her leadership from people who disapprove of some of those government policies and who’ve suffered because of them. 

‘And so I think she possibly makes quite a rational decision, not just at a personal level, but for the Labour Party as well.’

Jacinda Ardern resignation speech

‘Being Prime Minister has been the greatest honour of my life and I want to thank New Zealanders for the enormous privilege of leading the country for the last five and a half years.

‘With holding such a privileged role comes responsibility, including the responsibility to know when you’re the right person to lead, and also when you’re not.

‘I have given my absolute all to being Prime Minister but it has also taken a lot out of me. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along.

‘Having reflected over summer I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It’s that simple.

‘I have spoken to the Governor-General this morning to let her know.

‘In addition to our ambitious agenda that has sought to address long term issues like the housing crisis, child poverty and climate change, we also had to respond to a major biosecurity incursion, a domestic terror attack, a volcanic eruption and a one in one hundred year global pandemic and ensuing economic crisis. The decisions that had to be made have been constant and weighty.

‘I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved over the last five years in spite of the many challenges thrown at us. We’ve turned around child poverty statistics and made the most significant increases in welfare support and public housing stock seen in many decades.

‘We’ve made it easier to access education and training while improving the pay and conditions of workers. And we’ve worked hard to make progress on issues around our national identify – I believe that teaching our history in schools and celebrating Matariki as our own indigenous national holiday will all make a difference for years to come.

‘And we’ve done that while responding to some of the biggest threats to the health and economic wellbeing of New Zealanders, arguably since World War Two.

‘The Labour team are incredibly well placed to contest the next election. They are the most experienced team in the country and have shown they have the skills necessary to respond to whatever comes their way.

‘I’m not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election, but because I believe Labour can and will win it. We need a fresh set of shoulders for the challenges of both this year and the next three.

‘As to my time in the job, I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – one who knows when it’s time to go.’

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