National has called a Caucus meeting for 11.00 a.m. today and then asked its board to be on standby for a telephone conference at mid-day to discuss Government formation.
News of the Caucus broke out last night after NZ First issued a statement saying they would be in a position tomorrow afternoon to announce the result of negotiations following the 2017 General Election.
But National stressed that “we have had no indication of what decision New Zealand First will make.”
And trying to work out that out seemed to become even more complicated yesterday.
Usually, reliable political sources were predicting yesterday that the announcement could be by mid-day.
But as the number of media waiting in the Bowen House foyer began to increase in anticipation, it became clear there were problems 13 floors above in the NZ First offices.
Key staff members, Paul Carrad and David Broome, came and went, getting fresh air or buying lunch.
No MPs were seen until later in the day when Ron Mark and Clayton Mitchell left the building.
POLITIK learned that through the afternoon NZ First was in telephone communication with the two main parties.
But given that Peters had said on Tuesday night that they were 98% there on policy detail, what they were seeking more detail on was not clear.
Political meetings that last this long do so usually because they cannot reach agreement.
Perhaps Peters wanted to go one way and significant segment of the caucus another?
However, it is possible that they did get agreement on their final offer/demand to the two parties and that the delay tomorrow is for the two parties to reply to those offers.
What happens if both say “yes” – or “no” — is not known.
That was what happened in 1996 (they both said yes), and Peters then conducted a sort of auction to see how much he could get out of the parties regarding Cabinet positions.
National’s offer of “Treasurer” was the clincher but even then Peters asked for two more positions in Cabinet and six outside for his MPs and National Leader Jim Bolger agreed.
That ramping up of his demands by Peters is often spoken about by National MPs who were there at the time, and that particularly includes two of the current negotiating team, Bill English and Gerry Brownlee.
National Party officials say their members are wary of making concessions as they did in 1996 to Peters.