PM Jacinda Ardern was pushing David Clark out as Health Minister while publicly saying he'd stay until election

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was pushing David Clark out as Health Minister while publicly saying he would stay on until the September election. 

Dr Clark resigned as Health Minister on Thursday saying he had "made the call that it is best for me to stand aside" because he had become a "distraction". 

"He reached the conclusion his ongoing presence in the health role was causing too much distraction to the Government's response to COVID-1 - an assessment I agree with," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. 

The distractions have been abundant. The lockdown breaches: moving house, the drive to the beach with his family, and that mountain bike ride - prompting Dr Clark's first resignation offer in April. 

"It was bloody obvious to me at that point I felt like a complete dick," he told The AM Show at the time.  

The Prime Minister responded with a threat to Dr Clark's job. 

"Under normal circumstances I would sack the minister," she said at the time. 

With those eight words, the Prime Minister delivered Dr Clark a fate worse than sacking - stripping him of the authority to do his job. 

But Dr Clark dug in, saying he had no plans to resign again. 

"I am certainly very keen to get on with this," he told Newshub Nation in June. 

The Prime Minister doubled down in Queenstown last Friday when asked if Dr Clark would hold onto his job until the election at least. 

"Of course, that is what I've continued to say."

But we now know that around that same time late last week the Prime Minister was edging Dr Clark out. 

Newshub asked the Prime Minister if she in any way insinuated or suggested to Dr Clark that she wanted him to offer his resignation. 

"No, it was a very open conversation," she said. 

And in that "very open conversation" the Prime Minister gave him the kiss of death - making it clear he was becoming a distraction so close to an election.

Ardern was asked if she had raised with Dr Clark that he was becoming a distraction.

"We had a general discussion around what was needed to put the country first and our COVID response first," she said. 

As for why she didn't just sack Dr Clark, Ardern said: "My focus has been COVID all the way through - our response to COVID. Those early days, continuity was the most important thing."

The Prime Minister was fortified by her cabinet, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Health Minister Chris Hipkins - the MP taking on the health portfolio temporarily - both helped Dr Clark on his way.  

"I had a good, honest conversation with him," Hipkins said. 

Robertson said Dr Clark "made the right call". 

The pushing and shoving perhaps explains why the Prime Minister and Dr Clark couldn't even get their dates straight. 

"This morning I have formally given my resignation," Dr Clark said on Thursday morning. 

The Prime Minister's version, "Yesterday I received Dr David Clark's resignation."

Whether it was on Wednesday or Thursday, they agreed on one thing:  Dr Clark had to go.