Winning 2020 election focus of National's caucus retreat as leadership speculation falls to the wayside

Bill English emerged from the National Party caucus retreat in Tauranga today, eager to shift the focus from leadership speculation to the 2020 election. 

"It's clear from talking to business in Tauranga there is a lot of uncertainty to government policy," he told media today.

Mr English said National have a "real commitment" to holding what he called a "fundamentally weak" government to account, and would be focusing on the 2020 election. 

1 NEWS political reporter Andrea Vance has the latest from the National Party caucus in Tauranga. Source: 1 NEWS

"We've got a strong team. National's not pretending [not getting into government] didn't happen... we fell short one way or another, even though we ran a good campaign and are by far the biggest party."

He said National would continue to work with parties with "whom we have a common interest" from now until the next election, which included NZ First. 

"We are going to work to get the government to moderate its policies... but we intend to viciously oppose industrial relations policy and the policy to close partnership schools."

Speaking with media Mr English turned his attention to proposed charter school legislation by the government, which would allow some existing charter schools to continue but would be decided on a "case by case" basis.

The National Party leader called the decision 'the worst of ideological behaviour'. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's nasty and vindictive policy, and the victims of it will be the kids. For a government who say children are at the heart of everything they're doing, the PM has not been able to give one reason why it is good for those kids to have their school closed. I think it's a disgrace."

The proposal comes after MPs Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson said they were in favour of the model. Mr Jackson's Manukau Urban Maori Authority runs a charter school in South Auckland and had plans to open another.

Mr English said the proposed legislation was the "worst of ideological behaviour".

"The focus of these partnership schools are kids who were struggling. It changes their lives and the lives of their families."

"I challenge her to go to the schools and cook some sausages for the kids and tell them, 'this is the last one, because I'm going to close your school'." 

National's leader says the party won't rule forming a coalition with NZ First in the future. Source: 1 NEWS