Former Epsom MP Rodney Hide has revealed his successor to the Act Party leadership wanted him out of Parliament immediately - which would have triggered a by-election just months before the general election.
Don Brash swept into the leadership of the Act Party on April 28 last year. The incumbent leader, Hide, stepped down to make way for Brash, who had joined the party that morning, when it became clear Brash had the numbers to roll him.
However, Hide - who starts as a columnist for the Herald on Sunday today - reveals Brash wanted his head on a platter, even if that cost the country a by-election.
"Once I told Don on the Wednesday that I would stand down and back him as leader, he had three demands: One, that I immediately resign [from] Parliament; two, that I immediately resign as Minister [outside Cabinet]; and three, that Banks be ACT's candidate in Epsom. I refused to resign and force a by-election."
Hide told Prime Minister John Key about Brash's demands.
' "The Prime Minister was incredulous that Don wanted a by-election. He didn't think Labour would agree to forego the opportunity of a by-election as is possible so close to an election."
Hide said his refusal to resign forced Key to either back him or sack him.
"I explained to the Prime Minister that ... he would have to sack me as Minister because I had done nothing wrong. Don eventually relented on having me sacked as Minister."
A spokeman in Key's office this week confirmed Hide's recollection of events. "The Prime Minister valued [Hide's] contribution as a minister right through that period and there was never any suggestion in his mind that [Hide] would resign pre election."