National leader Chris Luxon and Simon Bridges to make first appearance together since leadership contest

National leader Chris Luxon and Simon Bridges to make first appearance together since leadership contest

New National Party leader Chris Luxon and Simon Bridges will have their first appearance together since the leadership change, and Luxon is expected to announce Bridges’ new portfolios.

The two will make an announcement in Bridges’ home town of Tauranga today before Luxon’s re-shuffle announcement on Monday.

Although Luxon has said he had not discussed portfolios with any MPs during the leadership contest, he is widely expected to offer Bridges the finance portfolio and the third ranking.

Nicola Willis was elected deputy by the caucus.

Bridges withdrew from National’s leadership race about an hour before the caucus was due to meet on Tuesday, after talking to Luxon earlier in the day.

He issued a tweet saying he would be supporting Luxon for the role, but has not commented publicly since then.

Bridges turned down finance under Judith Collins because he disagreed with her decision to split the portfolio into two; since then, both Michael Wood and Andrew Bayly have shared it, Bayly as Shadow Treasurer and Wood as Finance spokesman.

Under Collins, Bridges was ranked 7th and given Justice, Water and Pike River.

It will be Luxon’s first visit outside Wellington after spending his first day as leader doing media interviews and talking to MPs.

Parliament is in recess this week, but will return next Tuesday when Luxon will go head to head against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the first time.

Since he took over as leader, Luxon has said there would be jobs for all three former leaders in his caucus – Collins, Bridges and Todd Muller – saying “we’ll set the baggage aside.”

It remains unknown whether Muller now wants to reverse his decision to retire in 2023 – a decision forced on him by Collins after she found out he had anonymously badmouthed fellow MP Harete Hipango to media.

National leader Chris Luxon and Simon Bridges to make first appearance together since leadership contest

National Party's Christopher Luxon and Simon Bridges in February 2020. Photo / Claire Trevett

Luxon was elected leader after a dramatic four days in which Judith Collins was removed in a vote of no confidence by caucus last Thursday.

That was prompted by her attempt to demote Bridges over comments he had made to MP Jacqui Dean at a caucus function in 2016, which Dean had mentioned to Collins in recent weeks.

Bridges – who had apologised to Dean soon after the incident – had claimed it was a desperate bid by Collins to hold onto her leadership as speculation mounted he planned to roll her.

Shane Reti stood in as interim leader for the four days until the caucus met to elect a new leader – and Bridges withdrew after realising he did not have enough support.

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