National MP Simon Bridges says his demotion following serious misconduct allegation against him announced by leader Judith Collins on Wednesday night is “truly desperate stuff”.
Bridges told media outside Parliament on Thursday morning it demonstrated she would go to “any length to hold onto the leadership of the National Party”.
1News understands the misconduct relates to a comment of a sexual nature in front of - but not about - MP Jacqui Dean. Dean made a complaint at the time.
Last night, Collins issued a statement which said the decision was made with unanimous support of National Party board.
“The case relates to comments made by Mr Bridges to a female caucus colleague at a function a number of years ago.”
Collins said the complaint left her with no choice but to demote Bridges.
“There’s a huge amount I want to say about what happened yesterday and how wrong it was and I assure you I will but I want to talk to my caucus first and be very clear with them about what I think and about what I think should happen for the National Party,” Bridges said from outside Parliament.
The National Party Caucus is meeting at 9am, while Collins is due to front media at 10am to further elaborate on the matter.
1News understands there will be leadership challenge.
The fallout has already begun, with National MP Simon O’Connor handing over his portfolios, saying he can’t work with Collins.
“One thing is abundantly clear to me and that is Judith Collins must resign,” he said.
O’Connor then went on to describe his leader’s actions last night as “downright appalling”.
1News’ political editor Jessica Mutch McKay told Breakfast this was an “extraordinary response”.
McKay said the allegation against Bridges came in the wake of recent intensity around Collins’ leadership.
Her approval rating received a new low — minus 31 — in a 1News Colmar Brunton Poll results on November 15.
Sources had told McKay Collins found out about Jacqui Dean’s complaint last week, so it had been “bubbling away in the background for the last couple of days”.
McKay remarked it would be unusual for Bridges to “go down quietly” and that he would come out swinging in the wake of the demotion.