Former National leader Todd Muller has penned a revealing letter to his Bay of Plenty electorate in which he apologises for his role in the latest party leaks controversy while citing the importance of not letting "bitterness, anger or ego corrode your life".
The Herald reported last week Muller was told to resign or face suspension from caucus after leader Judith Collins learned he was one of several unnamed MPs quoted in a Newsroom article critical of Harete Hipango.
Muller had announced he would step down in 2023 – citing family and health reasons – on Thursday morning after a late night caucus meeting of the National Party.
"You'll no doubt have seen recent media coverage that I have decided not to stand again at the next election. It has not been an easy week, for either my family or myself, but I am determined to remain focused on serving my community," Muller writes in the email to his electorate sent out today.
The 52-year-old also apologised to the community that voted for him "so strongly" over three elections.
"So, however difficult the last few days have been, I need to acknowledge and apologise for my part in it, accept what's done is done, and focus on the future," he said.
"Anything less than that doesn't serve the community who voted for me so strongly for three elections.
The former National leader is currently on five weeks' leave until later this month to care for his wife after surgery. However, in the letter, he reiterated he was available to his community during this time.
"The leave I am taking is from Parliament, not from my electorate; my team and I remain available to assist constituents as always."
He expressed gratitude to the hundreds of people in the "amazing community" who had been sending messages of support to the family.
"At times like this, it is even more important to recall the values of service and integrity that I was brought up by, so deeply expressed by my late father and grandparents," he said in the letter.
"Part of what they taught me is not to let bitterness, anger or ego corrode your life."
On Tuesday, Collins refused to say if she wanted Muller to stay on until the election as his original resignation statement had said. Instead, she repeatedly said that was something for caucus to decide.
Asked why it was not a decision for Muller to make, she said "obviously he's a member of caucus, so he'll be part of that decision-making".
The comments appear to raise the prospect Collins could ask caucus to force Muller out earlier than 2023.
Muller is an electorate MP and while caucus can suspend or expel him, it cannot force him to leave Parliament unless Collins invokes the waka jumping legislation - a law National is strongly opposed to.