West Australian opposition leader Mike Nahan has quit the Liberal Party leadership, just hours after rejecting claims he had drafted a resignation letter.
In a statement on Wednesday night, Dr Nahan said it was always his plan to hand over the Liberal leadership before the 2021 state election.
"It was always my intention to rebuild the Liberal team, to give all leadership aspirants the opportunity to prove themselves and to then reconsider my position halfway through this term, with the intention of handing (sic) over to a new team," he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Dr Nahan rejected claims he had recently drafted a letter of resignation and struck a deal to hand over the reins to his deputy Liza Harvey.
He said the "airing of leadership discussions in the media" prompted his resignation, and called for the issue of the party's leadership to be resolved by the end of the week.
Dr Nahan has seen the Liberals through opposition since the party's crushing defeat at the 2017 state election, where it was reduced to just 13 seats in the 59-seat lower house.
In his statement, Dr Nahan said the party had won three elections under his leadership "against the odds, the expectations and the polls".
"If the Federal Election results were translated to a 2021 State Election, we would govern with a comfortable majority," he said.
"Against the tide of political thought and expectations, the WA Liberal Opposition has done well."
Premier Mark McGowan earlier acknowledged Dr Nahan took on the difficult task of being opposition leader after Labor won the 2017 election when no one else wanted the job.
"He had the courage to step up when none of his colleagues would," Mr McGowan said.
"While he has his flaws, like all of us, at least he had the strength to do it unlike the other contenders."
Dr Nahan said he would stay on as the member for Riverton and called for a special party room meeting to hold a ballot for the leadership.
Australian Associated Press