National MPs meet to decide their next deputy leader after their devastating election loss

National MPs are meeting this morning to decide who will lead their party after the devastating election loss.

Before the party meeting, Judith Collins would not say who her pick for deputy was – but said she expects to retain the leadership of the party.

She said she believes the party is happy with her leadership.

“There will be surprises,” Collins said, in relation to the re-shuffle.

She said there were several people who would be willing to “sacrifice themselves” for the finance role.

On Gerry Brownlee, Collins said he would be a very active member of the National caucus.

He said the new deputy would complement Collins in a good way – he too wouldn’t say who his preferred replacement would be.

He wouldn’t say if he plans to step down before the 2023 election.

“Anything that happens in the caucus, stays in the caucus,” Collins said when asked about portfolio allocations.

Collins said the US has a great democracy and Trump should be playing his part.

But whether or not he should concede is up to the American people.

Senior National MP Mark Mitchell said he would not be running for the deputy leadership, or the leadership of the party.

He said Shane Reti and Michael Woodhouse are names that have been thrown around as deputy leaders.

Specifically, he said it would be good to have someone with a health background in the role.

He said there was no pressure for Brownlee to leave the role.

Mitchell said he has asked for an economic portfolio – he has asked for his current defence portfolio to be given to someone else.

He ruled out a tilt at the leadership during this term.

Collins has previously said she and Brownlee had been handed the “hospital pass from hell” and only agreed to lead the party after being asked by the caucus.

Last week, Brownlee officially announced he would not be seeking re-election as the deputy.

Brownlee said Friday: “While I was proud to step in at the time, and remain so, I’ve always believed that influence is more important than position when it comes to politics.”

That left the spot open and, according to former and current National MPs, Reti was the front runner to become the new deputy.

One MP said Reti was Collins’ top pick for deputy.

Collins has said she gets on well with Shane Reti.

“The only question is whether or not there is going to be a contest for it [the deputy job],” the MP said.

Another said, going through the caucus, there were not a lot of options.

But Reti was the one who sprung to mind, they said.

A number of outgoing MPs also told the Herald that Reti was the obvious choice.

“My pick: 90 per cent it will be Shane Reti,” one said. “He is the obvious choice.”

“He was one of the few who performed well during the election campaign,” another said, adding that he had established respect within National Party circles, as well as across Parliament.

It is also understood that senior MP Michael Woodhouse was considering a run at the job as well.

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