"I’ve called this press briefing to address an issue – directly – one that has been a source of concern to myself and to others for some time.
Over the past eighteen months I have been coming to terms with and seeking to cope with a drink problem. And I’ve come to learn through that process that any drink problem is a serious problem indeed – for yourself and for those around about you.
I’ve sought professional help and I believe today that this issue is essentially resolved. People close to me know that this has been a struggle and for extended periods I have consumed no alcohol at all. As a matter of fact I haven’t had a drink for the past two months – and I don’t intend to in the future.
I’ve learnt the hard way of the need to face up to this medical problem – one that is dealt with successfully by many others on a daily basis. I have chosen not to acknowledge it publicly in this way before because, if at all possible, I wanted to overcome it privately.
In a sense, this admission today comes as something of a personal relief. I should have been willing to talk about it more openly before. I wish I had.
This issue has – understandably – been of concern to several of my parliamentary colleagues.
They have been both understanding and supportive.
I am extremely grateful to them for that.
It also lies beneath much of the current leadership speculation within the parliamentary party.
Therefore, let me be clear. I consider myself capable and in good health – and I remain politically determined as leader of the party.
This party’s members have shown me tremendous support over the years and overwhelmingly in recent weeks and days. It is a privilege to serve as their leader. I want to continue doing so, not least because the prospects in front of us in this parliament are so great.
Given my statement today I believe it is only fair now to give our party members their say over the continuing leadership.
It is open to any colleague who believes that they can better represent the longer-term interests of the party to stand against me in such a leadership election.
I am requesting that the party puts in place the necessary steps to enable this election to take place immediately.
Given the extremely personal nature of this statement I trust that you will understand that I do not propose to make further comments."