National Party leader Judith Collins has dismissed talk of a Simon Bridges and Christopher Luxon takeover as “whispers” that are “false”.
Speaking to reporters this morning, Collins, with her deputy Shane Reti beside her, said she hadn’t spoken to either Bridges or Luxon about the prospect.
“I know that it’s nothing more than whispers and I also know that the caucus is fully behind me,” she said.
“My focus is on the failure of the Government to deliver on vaccinations at the border and also their failure to deliver on mental health and issues that matter to New Zealanders.”
When asked how she was dealing with the “whispers”, Collins said she was “ignoring them because I know they’re false”.
Bridges was equally sure to damp down the idea this morning and said there was “no truth” to it.
“Oh, whatever, it’s just chatter.”
Bridges added: "I talk with lots of colleagues. I can't be expected to remember everything I say."
He called it “rumour and speculation” and said “I support Judith Collins at this time”.
When asked by 1 NEWS what he meant by “this time”, Bridges said reporters shouldn’t hang off his every phrase, adding, “I wish you did when I was leader.
“[Collins] showed me huge loyalty [when I was] leader. So, of course I do.”
While Bridges spoke, Luxon walked quickly behind him before he was stopped by media outside the caucus room. Reti swiftly took him into the room before he could answer any questions.
First-term MP Luxon has frequently made an appearance on 1 NEWS’ Colmar Brunton polling for preferred Prime Minister, even before he announced he was going to run for the Botany seat last year.
At a Botany candidates’ forum in September, Newsroom’s Tim Murphy noted in a column, Luxon provided “a peek into the future” of the National Party and spoke “like a leader in waiting”. Former Prime Minister Sir John Key had also spoken openly about the idea of Luxon as leader.
As he arrived in Wellington shortly after the election, Luxon said he was just trying to find his feet as an MP first. When asked then if he had ambitions of taking the reigns for National, he told reporters "you guys are way ahead of your skis".
More recently, Discovery reported National MPs, in a rare move, had overridden Collins' and Reti’s stance on fluoridation.
NZ Herald’s Claire Trevett said in an opinion piece there was some social media “hoopla” around his maiden speech and “prompted some raised eyebrows among his colleagues”.
In the speech, Luxon gave his wide-ranging vision for the New Zealand of the future as one that marries the efforts of business and Government. He also attempted to mitigate concerns his religion would play a disproportionate part in his role as an MP.
“One option that is now being discussed in National is to reinstate Bridges as leader with Luxon as his deputy and finance spokesman. This plan is still in its infancy,” Trevett wrote.
“Bridges would know he would be seen as an interim leader, and there would be constant speculation about whether Luxon would roll him.”