Former National Party MP Jami-Lee Ross has fronted up for his first day back at Parliament as an independent MP after last year's controversy - while also taking a back-handed crack at Simon Bridges' popularity.
Mr Ross was expelled from the National Party on October 16 after a public feud with Mr Bridges in which Mr Ross accused Mr Bridges of corruption. Mr Bridges denied the claims.
Mr Ross himself is also accused by several women of harassment and bullying, and admitted he had an affair with a fellow MP.
Looking back at the lead up to the falling out between himself and Mr Bridges, Mr Ross said this morning that he felt he had simply raised concerns about the public perception of National Party Leader Simon Bridges, which hes says was viewed not as constructive, but disloyal, and that recent poll results are now showing he was right all along.
"I was a part of the National Party family, I was part of the caucus and they were my colleagues," Mr Ross said.
"I enjoyed being part of the National Party, but I had a significant falling out with Simon Bridges when I raised issues around his popularity and his likeability - we were seeing those issues in internal polls - and I was doing what I felt was the right thing to do by my leader, and my friend, to raise them with him.
"He viewed that as disloyalty and I ultimately suffered the fate that you saw last year.
"I raised legitimate issues around popularity and likeability ... I think the public's now telling the National Party the same thing I was saying."
A NewsHub-Reid Research poll yesterday showed a sharp drop in support for Simon Bridges, and National's worst result in a decade.
"I feel sorry for my former colleagues," Mr Ross said, "they're good people ... I think they deserve a chance to govern again one day.
"It would be interesting to see how well the National Party would do if they had a popular leader.
"I think the three candidates for leadership that are still in the caucus ... Amy Adams, Judith Collins and Mark Mitchell ... I think they're all honest and hard-working MPs and they would connect well with New Zealanders - but I don't get a choice in that any more."
Mr Ross said he would continue to be civil towards all MPs, National or otherwise, including Sarah Dowie, who was named by police in relation to a text sent from her phone to Mr Ross during last year, which allegedly included the words "you deserve to die".
Ms Dowie was previously named by Mr Ross as one of the women he had an extra-marital affair with.
Mr Ross has undergone mental health treatment since last year's controversy, and has expressed gratitude and support for those who helped him get through.