Australian right-wing Senator Cory Bernardi has defected from the nation’s government to launch his own Australian Conservatives party.
Mr Bernardi confirmed his move in Australia’s upper house on Tuesday, ending months of speculation.
The outspoken senator has repeatedly criticised PM Malcolm Turnbull’s government for being too moderate.
His departure comes as a fresh blow to Mr Turnbull, who holds a precarious majority of one in the lower house.
If Mr Bernardi were to persuade a single MP to join him, Mr Turnbull – whose Liberal party has been hit by infighting and has fallen far behind Labor in opinion polls – would be left with a minority government.
Mr Bernardi’s views on topics including same-sex marriage, climate change and abortion have polarised public opinion.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me,” Mr Bernardi said. “Perhaps the most difficult one of my political life.”
“The level of public disenchantment with the major parties, the lack of confidence in our political process and the concern about the direction of our nation is very, very strong.”