Barnaby Joyce has resigned as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia after a tumultuous fortnight of allegations and personal revelations.
The former Deputy Prime Minister arrived to meet reporters in Armidale alone, wearing a large Akubra Riverina on his head.
‘On Monday morning at the party room, I will step down as the leader of the National Party and deputy leader of Australia. I have informed the acting Prime Minister, Mathias Cormann, of this,’ he told reporters.
Just half an hour before his press conference, The ABC reported Joyce’s Chief of Staff called a meeting with his Canberra office, where it is believed he informed his staff of his stepping down.
Some members of his party have been pushing for a leadership spill when the House of Representatives returns next week.
They may get one on Monday, with Joyce expected to formally resign at 8am.
Joyce will remain on the backbench, and will remain the MP for New England.
Gone? There is growing speculation Barnaby Joyce will announce his resignation as Deputy Prime Minister at a press conference on Friday afternoon
Victorian backbencher Andrew Broad yesterday said Mr Joyce ‘needs to step down as leader of the National party’.
The speculation comes weeks after Mr Joyce’s affair with his former press secretary, Vikki Campion, was revealed.
The former Deputy Prime Minister asked that his resignation be the ‘circuit-breaker’ for coverage on his new relationship and unborn son.
‘I’d like to say that it’s absolutely important, it’s incredibly important that there be a circuit-breaker, not just for the parliament, but more importantly, a circuit-breaker for Vikki, for my unborn child, my daughters and for Nat,’ he said.
‘This has got to stop. It’s not fair on them. It’s just completely and utterly unwarranted, the sort of observation that’s happened.
‘On a humorous side, I think it’s got to stop for the poor buggers who are parked outside my house every day.
‘It’s got to stop for them as well, they have got to go home.’
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suggested his deputy ‘consider his position’ a week ago but Mr Joyce instead forged ahead with a lengthy series of press interviews.
He called on Australians to ‘move on’ from the affair in a Fairfax Media interview with Ms Campion this week.
But the whispers surrounding Mr Joyce’s hold on his position showed no sign of abating since.
He was forced to deny a sexual harassment allegation as ‘spurious and defamatory’ on Thursday.
Asked by Nine News whether he was still going nowhere on Friday, Mr Joyce said: ‘Let’s do the presser’.
Calls to Mr Joyce’s office went unanswered.