Jacinda Ardern loses Labour leadership after caucus rebuke

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The New Zealand opposition leader, Jacinda Ardern, has lost her leadership after a stinging vote of no confidence in her leadership by a clutch of party colleagues.

Her removal comes just weeks after taking the top job and just hours after she dramatically apologised for the “haunted” role she played in the failure of her high-profile cabinet mate, Simon Bridges, to support the government’s $6bn land rezoning deal.

Jacinda Ardern leaving the media conference with her husband Clarke Gayford. Photograph: Paula Barlow/AAP

Ardern stood down, triggering a vote of confidence, which she lost, 108-91.

Caucus chairs had sent out letters supporting her, but the letter was voted down on Tuesday evening when most of the caucus backed her removal.

The 10-member caucus motion for her removal will go to the National party and Maori seats, forming part of Ardern’s New Zealand First-driven confidence motion.

“We are confident New Zealand First will support the motion as a show of support for change,” Ardern told reporters.

Her deputy, Labour backbencher Kelvin Davis, had previously ruled out challenging her leadership.

The Labour caucus heard some of the letter’s supporters speak against her in front of them when they met for a vote of confidence.

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Asked if she had supported the issues that led to her leadership, Ardern replied: “I am here at this time to express my deep disappointment in the behaviour of some Labour caucus members.

“As I have consistently said, I would have preferred the caucus to have made its decision in private before tonight,” she said.

Ardern said she would not be contesting the leadership when she stood for the position in the first place.

She thanked her wife and partner, Clarke Gayford, for being “there for me and providing support as I prepared to become leader”.

Ardern said she had “no idea” when her private life would ever be under scrutiny and would never take criticism about it lightly.

She said she had made mistakes, but the caucus had “put it all out there” for her to face.

National party leader Simon Bridges commended Ardern for bringing a fresh energy to the Labour party and said he wanted to help Ardern achieve her goals in her new role as leader.

The deputy prime minister, Paula Bennett, will be acting leader, with Bennett and Jacinda Carter also announcing they would be standing in their own nominations for the leadership.

Ardern will not be standing.

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