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McConnell to quit as Senate Republican leader in November

Mitch McConnell, the powerful politician from Kentucky, announced that he plans to step down as the Senate’s longest-serving Republican leader in November.

He has served as leader for nearly 20 years, but said it was “time to move on” in a speech on Wednesday.

Mr McConnell has proven key to passing conservative priorities and electing Republicans to Capitol Hill.

He fell out of favour with Donald Trump’s wing in recent years, however.

In his speech, Mr McConnell reflected on his long career, his age – 82 – and his family.

But he dedicated a large portion of his speech to the importance of US global leadership despite the ideological shift his party has undergone under former President Donald Trump’s isolationist and populist rhetoric.

“I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time. I have many faults, but misunderstanding politics is not one,” he said.

“That said, I believe more strongly than ever that America’s global leadership is essential to preserving the shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan discussed,” he added, referring to the Republican president who proactively fostered US alliances at the end of the Cold War.

Mr Trump’s leadership has changed those views.

He has pushed Republicans further to the right, and he has regularly questioned the value of American military alliances and international trade.

He has also repeated false claims that he won the 2020 election – a point of contention between him and Mr McConnell – and emphasised his desire to crackdown on immigration.

These political shifts have caused Mr McConnell to face increasing pressures from his fellow Republicans in the Senate who are loyal to the former president.

But the Senate Republican did not suggest his party’s ideological changes or Mr Trump were the reasons for his decision to leave the leadership post, nor did he give any other motivating factor beyond a passing reference to the death of his wife’s sister.

Mr McConnell has faced recent health issues, however.

He twice froze when speaking during press conferences in the past year, and he suffered a concussion after falling at a hotel in Washington. Due to his age, some have speculated whether he would remain in his position.

The Kentucky senator noted in his speech that he would serve out his term, which ends in January 2027, but he would work “from a different seat in the chamber”.

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