There were questions late last night about the political future of Auckland Central MP, and former National Party deputy leader, Nikki Kaye.
Multiple usually reliable National party sources have told POLITIK they believe she is considering quitting.
She has been the focus of much of the criticism directed at the Todd Muller leadership with claims that she had a veto over most decisions that were being made by the Caucus and advisors.
This led to a series of complaints and possibly even threats of resignations made to Muller over the weekend.
She also apparently defied Muller and agreed to go on “Q+A” on Sunday morning after he had asked that she not.
Some sources say this may have been more a case of confusion than defiance; that it had been agreed she should go on and then it was decided she should not.
Tellingly she did not nominate for the deputy leadership at the caucus meeting on Tuesday night which might be seen as a hint that she is considering her future.
She has been an ardent supporter of Todd Muller for the past two years or ao.
One caucus member said her over-riding political mission had been to make him leader.
An almost fanatical and driven worker, it has sometimes seemed as if she was the only Caucus member working on policy.
Talking to POLITIK in January 2018, after the 2017 defeat she said she believed that National could form the next Government if it could raise its vote at the next election because she believed National could be the party of innovative ideas that spoke directly to the under 45 generations.
“A lot of people will want to know what the contracts will be between Labour and us,” she said.
“If it’s a spending competition, then Labour will win.
“One of the reasons we have been successful is that we have genuinely put up the case for good policies like social investment, like communities of learning in education and some of the work we have done in research and innovation.
“People genuinely understand if you have got leading policy ideas.
“And that’s where the election will be fought out.”
Hence Todd Muller’s comment that he was not about opposition for opposition’s sake.
Contrast that with Judith Collins on Tuesday night and what her plan is.
“Experience, toughness, the ability to make decisions,” she said.
“Jacinda Ardern is not someone we should ever underestimate.
“She is an adversary that I would absolutely respect, but I tell you what, our team is better than their team and we are going to take it back.”
Kaye has also been a close friend of Michelle Boag, the former Party President who leaked the confidential patient data to two National MPs.
Her critics within the party at Parliament blame her for the delay by Todd Muller in calling for the removal of one of those MPs, Hamish Walker.
They claim she was trying to protect Boag.
And Simon Bridges’ former press secretary, Rachel Morton, told NewstalkZB yesterday that the leadership had stopped the other MP who received the data, Michael Woodhouse, from making a public confession because they argued it would detract from a major speech Muller was making.
Kaye has been National’s leading liberal.
She was once described to POLITIK by a former leader as the caucus’ most left-wing member.
If she goes, that would throw the spotlight on to two younger members of the Caucus, Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis, who share many of her ideas and ideals.
They could help fill any hole she might leave, but it would be a big hole.
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