Bill English on democracy: 'A fantastic privilege'

National Party leader and former Prime Minister Bill English announced on Tuesday he would be resigning from Parliament after 27 years of service.

He told The Project he feels "deep satisfaction" about the job he's done.

"I've had the opportunity, in my own small way, to make a difference for people to ensure that New Zealanders have better lives."

Of his emotional resignation speech in which he choked up while thanking his wife and children, he said he has "always had a bit of trouble talking about my family in public".

He paid his respects to his colleagues, past and present, especially Nick Smith, Roger Sowry and Tony Ryall, who entered Parliament at the same time as he did.

"I think I've sacked one or two of them, we've all been sacked ourselves, but we still got on as real friends."

When asked if he's resentful about resigning as leader despite National receiving more votes in last year's election, Mr English was philosophical.

"People have all sorts of thing happen to them in their lives, either that they didn't expect or they think weren't fair or whatever, but that's democracy."

He said democracy gives people a "fantastic privilege".

"You don't have to be qualified, you don't have to be good at anything, you just have to get voted in."

Watch the full interview on The Project above.