Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has resigned from Parliament, triggering a by-election that could bring down the unpopular conservative government.
Disgruntled politicians in Mr Turnbull’s Liberal Party replaced him as prime minister with his treasurer Scott Morrison in a party ballot last Friday.
The government has trailed the centre-left opposition Labour Party in most opinion polls since the last election in 2016.
Mr Turnbull became the fourth prime minister ousted by his or her own party since 2010.
The by-election in Mr Turnbull’s wealthy Sydney electorate could be held as early as October 6.
Mr Turnbull has been criticised by former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce for refusing to stay in Parliament until the next election, due in May next year.
The ex-deputy PM, who fell out with Mr Turnbull over an affair Mr Joyce had with a former staffer, said “people are going to be really disappointed” by Mr Turnbull’s decision not to serve his full three-year term.
Mr Morrison, meanwhile, had nothing but praise for his predecessor.
“I’m disappointed Malcolm’s leaving Parliament and is leaving public life,” he said.
“Malcolm has been a dear and close friend of me for a very long period of time and has served his country well and grandly.
“As a prime minister, he’ll be well remembered I believe over time.
“Right now I just want to send to my friend Malcolm and to (his wife) Lucy and their entire family all my best wishes and all my love.”
Mr Turnbull had told his supporters on Wednesday that he would resign this week.
“I don’t want to dwell on recent shocking and shameful events — a malevolent and pointless week of madness that disgraced our Parliament and appalled our nation,” he said of his ousting.