Bridges undecided on National leadership bid

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

Simon Bridges says he has not yet decided if he will make a run in the upcoming National Party leadership battle, after Judith Collins was dropped as the leader in a vote of no confidence by caucus.

The former leader said he would decide over the next day or two.

“Despite the media commentary, there wasn’t a vacancy [for leadership]. I was genuine in my clear statements [to the media] about not having the intention to stand where things are at.

"That’s changed - I’m going to consider it," Bridges said.

Simon Bridges speaks after Judith Collins loses leadership.

The National caucus is set to meet on Tuesday, interim leader Shane Reti revealed earlier.

Bridges told media he was “possibly wiser” than he was five or six years ago when he made comments in front of fellow MP Jacqui Dean, adding he was also possibly wiser than when he was previously leader of National.

Simon Bridges and Judith Collins.

Shortly after a media conference held by Reti, Dean released a statement saying Bridges made remarks about five years ago that upset her at the time.

“They were not about me, but they were inappropriate and not something I wanted to hear."

She said at the time there was an apology, “but subsequently it has continued to play on my mind and with the recent reviews that have occurred in Parliament the feelings have been brought back up”.

“What matters to me is that all of us have a clear understanding of what behaviour we should expect in a modern workplace environment.

"Simon and I have spoken a number of times over the past few hours and he has reiterated his apology.”

Bridges told media the incident took place about five years ago at Premier House when Bill English was deputy National leader.

He was “talking with a number of MPs and, at some point, Jacqui Dean joined.”

Bridges said the conversation was around “wives and our children”, with him saying he had two boys and wanted a girl, and then “gauged in some old wives' tales”.

He did not repeat what he said.

“I acknowledge that some of what I said was clearly inappropriate.”

He said English pulled him into his office to discuss the incident and made clear Dean was “deeply offended”.

Bridges said he then apologised to Dean at the time, who accepted the apology.

“I regret what I said. I wasn’t aware of its impact on Jacqui. Now, I’ve certainly been made aware of its significant effect. That’s a valuable lesson for me.

“I share her desire for a modern and inclusive workplace and work environment.”

Collins' late-night press release on Wednesday said she had stripped Bridges of his portfolios after being made aware of the comments.

However, her decision to issue the release did not go down well with her MPs. forcing the vote which she lost.