Chris Luxon has former PM John Key’s backing as new leader of the National Party.
Former National Prime Minister Sir John Key is calling MPs asking them to back Chris Luxon as new party leader.
The party’s 33 MPs are deciding on a new leader to replace Judith Collins, who was ousted in a vote of no confidence on Thursday.
Former leader Simon Bridges has made clear he is keen on retaking the job.
Luxon, who only entered Parliament last year, has not yet formally declared his candidacy and is refusing to comment to media.
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“Out of respect for my colleagues and for the process, I won’t have anything to say until after Tuesday’s Caucus meeting,” Luxon said.
But a National MP confirmed on Saturday that Key had been calling MPs urging them to support Luxon.
Another MP disputed that Key was doing this.
Luxon, the former chief executive of Air NZ, and current MP for Botany, has been marked as a possible future leader since long before he entered Parliament.
He is also close to Key and said on Tuesday the pair talked often.
It’s understood Luxon didn’t expect to go for the job so early in his political career, however.
Another National MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity on Friday, said the start of the weekend would be crucial – despite the vote not occurring until Tuesday.
“The next 24 hours are critical – who is perceived to have the momentum,” the MP said.
“I could live with either of them. Chris [Luxon] probably wants it given to him – like it was given to John Key. So if Simon [Bridges] really goes it pushes up the pressure.”
Key has been asked for comment.