• Judith Collins has been rolled as National's leader after 499 days
• She was dumped at a three-hour caucus meeting after an attempt to discipline Simon Bridges backfired
• Current deputy Shane Reti installed as interim leader
• Mark Mitchell and Christopher Luxon are the leadership candidates, caucus will vote on Tuesday next week
• Simon Bridges says he will take the new few days to consider seeking the role
• Claire Trevett: Collins should be gone by lunchtime - has she taken Nats down with her?
• Judith Collins out: Bowled after 499 days at the helm of the National Party
• 'Inappropriate, not something I wanted to hear': Jacqui Dean on Bridges' comments
National MPs will elect a new leader on Tuesday after a bruising caucus session dumped Judith Collins on what has been described as "not our best day" for the party.
Former leader Simon Bridges has revealed he is considering seeking a return to the role - saying National under Collins "haven't done a good enough job".
Collins was removed in a vote of no confidence today - punished by her colleagues just 12 hours after a hamfisted attempt to discipline Bridges.
It is understood Mark Mitchell and Christopher Luxon are the candidates to replace her, with a caucus vote on Tuesday to decide the winner.
In the meantime current deputy Shane Reti is interim leader. The deputy leader role will remain vacant for now.
Bridges: 'We haven't done a good enough job'
Bridges confirmed he would consider over the next few days whether to seek to reclaim the leadership.
Recent polling for the National Party was poor and the buck stopped with the leader.
"We haven't done a good enough job," Bridges said of the party's approach to major issues such as inflation.
He said compared to the Bridges of a few years ago, he was today "an older, possibly wiser guy".
"I do think I have a sense of what New Zealand needs at this time," Bridges added.
Asked if Collins should stand at the next election, Bridges said: "I made it clear this morning that I didn't have confidence with Judith Collins".
Bridges said he was "euphemistically, very unhappy" with Collins' press statement last night.
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," he said when asked if he was the party's heir apparent.
Bridges said he was trying to be upfront about his aspirations.
"I could work with various coalition partners if that was the privilege National had.
"I do think I've learned from it and I do know the toll it takes, and I do know National's building off a very low base," Bridges said when asked about the responsibilities of party leadership.
Bridges, like Reti, was taciturn when asked about the nature of caucus discussions, and would keep private what he called private conversations.
"I don't think it's helpful to go through the minute details," he said when asked about Collins dredging up his years-old remarks.
Bridges said as a former lawyer he was appalled with the lack of due process and natural justice that characterised Collins' demotion of him last night.
Bridges told reporters after the caucus meeting that several years ago when Dean was in earshot he had repeated "old wives' tales" about how people could conceive girls.
"Some time after Bill English, who at the time was Deputy Prime Minister, called me into his office to discuss this," Bridges said.
"I was very regretful and apologised."
Goodfellow: No specific penalties discussed
In an email to members this afternoon, National President Peter Goodfellow addressed the decision of Collins to demote Bridges and strip him of his portfolios last night.
Goodfellow said the board "unanimously supported a first step in seeking further information from the parties involved and ensure the Member of Parliament who was the subject of the allegations was given the opportunity to provide a considered response before any conclusions were drawn".
He added that "no specific penalties or actions were discussed, agreed, or endorsed by the Board at its meeting yesterday, beyond our support for an investigation in line with due process."
"It was not and is not a role of the board to give approval to demote Caucus members or take similar action".
This essentially rejects Collins' claim, made late on Thursday night that she acted "with unanimous support of the board of the National Party" to demote Bridges.
As Collins left Parliament she said: "It is a really hard job and I have done everything I possibly could," she told reporters as she stepped into a waiting taxi.
Asked it she had made a "principled" move, Collins replied: "Absolutely."
Collins said she was feeling "very good, greatly relieved". Asked if she regretted her actions, she replied: "Never."
Meanwhile Jacqui Dean said the comment Bridges made to her five years ago "upset me at the time".
"They were not about me, but they were inappropriate and not something I wanted to hear.
"At the time there was an apology, but subsequently it has continued to play on my mind and with the recent reviews that have occurred in Parliament the feelings have been brought back up.
"What matters to me is that all of us have a clear understanding of what behaviour we should expect in a modern workplace environment.
"Simon and I have spoken a number of times over the past few hours and he has reiterated his apology.
"As I'm sure can be appreciated, the publicity around this has been upsetting and I ask that my privacy is respected on this."
Reti spoke to media flanked by fellow MPs Matt Doocey and Maureen Pugh.
He said "caucus was concerned with the content of the press release" issued by Collins last night about demoting Bridges.
Today caucus issued a motion of no confidence in Collins, which was successful.
"My job at the moment is to shepherd and guide the caucus" through to the leadership decision next week, he added.
He too refused to disclose what private conversations he had with colleagues.
"We're looking for our new leadership team on Tuesday to bring us back in focus," Reti said.
"This is a business for the party, it is a business for MPs," he added, saying National MPs would have to be judicious and diligent about choosing the next leader.
He said the party would have to be mindful of major issues confronting New Zealand, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
"This is not our best day but as I said, we will raise our eyes to the sky."
Reti would not reveal the rules for the leadership contest. Caucus sets its own rules for any leadership election.
"By the end of that day I'm expecting we'll have a new leadership," he said of Tuesday's meeting.
"Judith Collins is a valuable member of our caucus team and she will be part of the caucus."
Reti left about seven minutes after arriving at the Legislative Council Chamber and did not answer when asked if he would put his own name forward for the leadership.
'Sad day for Judith'
National's Stuart Smith said he didn't know who he would back as the new leader as he would need to know the candidates first.
"It's a sad day for Judith and I just wish it hadn't happened," Smith said.
MPs are said to have "broken off into groups" to prepare press releases for the looming leadership campaign.
Collins: I knew I might 'likely lose the leadership'
Collins confirmed in a tweet she had lost the leadership - and conceded she knew this was a risk by addressing the Bridges issue.
Collins said on Twitter she was "happy to confirm that I will stand in the next election in Papakura".
"I am pleased to say that I am just the MP for Papakura again. It's been a privilege to take over the leadership of the National Party during the worst of times and to do so for 16 months," she said.
"It has taken huge stamina and resolve, and has been particularly difficult because of a variety of factors. I knew when I was confided in by a female colleague regarding her allegation of serious misconduct against a senior colleague, that I would likely lose the leadership by taking the matter so seriously.
"If I hadn't, then I felt that I wouldn't deserve the role. I didn't ask for the allegation to be given to me. I am proud of the support I received from Dr Shane Reti, a man of principle, and I will continue to advocate, not only for Papakura, but for those who have no voice," she said.
Collins thanked her staff and said she will "not miss the gruelling media schedule".
John Mitchell has already left his post as National Party chief press secretary.
Muller: A tough day
National MP Todd Muller said it had been a "tough day".
Muller, who took over as leader in a messy coup from Simon Bridges last year before standing down after less than three months, ruled out running again.
"I can certainly rule that out."
He also said he didn't yet know who the new leadership candidates were.
Muller unexpectedly announced in June he'd be retiring at the next election, in 2023.
It was later revealed he'd been told to resign or face suspension from caucus after Collins learned he was one of several unnamed MPs quoted in a Newsroom article critical of Harete Hipango.
Muller said he hadn't yet had time to reconsider that resignation, now Collins was gone.
"None of this stuff I have thought about."
He also declined to comment when asked if he was happy Collins had been voted out.
"It's been a pretty momentous day. I have no comment really. We had a pretty focused caucus meeting, as Dr Reti said we have got a pretty important few days ahead of us to take stock and reflect."
"I think you can understand why, not only is the caucus of a single mind around that but the party would expect us to."
Earlier: Three-hour caucus showdown cost Collins the leadership
Collins was National's leader for 499 days - since July 14, 2020, when she replaced Todd Muller.
She lost the leadership exactly 12 hours after publicly announcing that she had demoted Bridges - a decision that has spectacularly backfired and cost her the top job.
Today's crisis caucus meeting began at 9am.
Collins had initially planned to hold a 10am press conference but MPs emerged for a short "water" break just before 10.45am.
Several MPs have publicly declared that Collins is not fit to remain as National's leader - with Bridges attacking her actions as "truly desperate".
It is understood a majority of MPs were in favour of dumping her.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the leadership crisis was an internal matter for National.
"We're in the middle of a global pandemic and so my focus needs to be on managing that."
A timeline of the complaint emerges from National sources
The complaint about Bridges' comment was laid when he said it, about five years ago. Dean complained to Jami-Lee Ross, who was National's whip at the time.
Dean also went to Bill English, who deputy prime minister at the time. The matter did not get escalated to then Prime Minister John Key.
Ross organised an apology from Bridges to Dean and the complaint was not escalated to the Prime Minister.
The apology was, at the time, considered to have been sufficient and Dean backed Bridges in subsequent leadership contests.
Camp Collins said that last week the complaint was made again to the leadership. Collins' press release claimed this was the first time she had heard of it.
The leadership was told last week that Bridges' apology was not considered to have been sufficient.
Collins' supporters said at some point this week, Reti went to Bridges saying the complaint had resurfaced, and asking for it to be addressed.
Bridges was told that he could speak to either Collins or Reti about it. Bridges chose to speak to neither.
National's board met yesterday. There have been conflicting reports about what the board resolved to do, with Collins' late-night press release claiming she had the "unanimous" support of the board. However, several other sources have alleged the board was divided.
However a defiant Collins insisted she would still be the leader by the end of the day.
"It's a matter of principle. Every woman and every man should feel safe in their workplace.
"What is really important is that you don't deal with allegations by sweeping them under the carpet."
Māori Party backs Bridges over Collins
Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said although they had no official view on the National leadership, they backed Bridges over Collins.
"Simon Bridges works extremely hard in the House. And he has whakapapa.
"Te Pāti Māori will always back whakapapa. Doesn't matter whether he asserts it or not, he has whakapapa and the more Māori leaders we have the better. Maybe if he gets another shot he'll do more for his Māori side."
Ngarewa-Packer said harassment should never be tolerated, but she questioned why it was only being brought up now.
"These matters are so important they should come up immediately, not in the middle of a leadership kerfuffle. It is quite despicable.
"If there is a situation like that, it should be the priority, but [Collins] has timed to deal with it in the middle of a leadership upheaval."
Ngarewa-Packer has been outspoken about her distaste for Collins' politics and previously stated the party, which had previously formed a coalition with National, would never work with her.
"She emboldens racists. I could never support a leader that does that."
Nats fuming over 'deeply disrespectful' Collins
Collins announced Bridges' demotion in a release just after 9pm yesterday.
The announcement blindsided her MPs, one of whom described her actions as "deeply disrespectful".
Bridges described Collins' behaviour as "truly desperate" and said it showed she would go to any length to hold on to the leadership.
He had sought a caucus meeting yesterday, but said Collins refused even though she was still at Parliament.
She had finally agreed for MPs to meet this morning and he was looking forward to it, he said.
The alleged crude comments are understood to have been made when Bridges was talking with about three fellow MPs, including Jami-Lee Ross and Todd McClay, when Dean walked past. The Tauranga MP called to her and made the comment.
'Judith Collins must resign', Nat MPs 'feral' over demotion
National MP Simon O'Connor - who is married to Bridges' sister - told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking: "Judith Collins must resign".
He said her behaviour amounted to "bullying" and was damaging the party.
The allegations had to be looked at "but the way the leadership has dealt with this is beyond appalling."
He was surrendering his portfolios this morning: "I cannot work with Judith Collins".
O'Connor told Mike Hosking on NewstalkZB that Collins' late-night press release last night was a shock and surprise and he hoped people "could see what was happening".
He wasn't sure who would lead the party but it was now in a "terrible flux".
He said he rated Bridges but he and Jacqui Dean needed to talk fully and freely to the party about what had happened and he didn't have enough information about the allegations to make a call.
Mark Mitchell described Collins' actions as "deeply disrespectful".
He told Newshub that MPs, including Bridges, had been "blindsided" by Collins' statement. last night.
"Completely flying blind. No one has actually spoken to caucus and briefed us and talked us through it," he said.
"In my view, it was deeply disrespectful to the caucus and we should have been brought together and it should have been discussed, and I am sure that will be one of the issues that will be raised [today]."
Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly, a close Collins ally, would not say if he had confidence in Collins. "I'll make a comment after our caucus meeting. I think it's important as a caucus we talk about this first," he said.
He said he still had faith in his party, saying "it's a great party".
National MP Barbara Kuriger would not say she was proud of her party. She said she was "proud of members of our party".
"When you work your butt off every day you don't want to be standing round answering questions like this, so it's pretty disappointing."
Another MP, Chris Bishop, refused today to answer whether or not he would challenge for the National leadership.
He was asked repeatedly and answered by telling RNZ he was focused on ending MIQ.
National's Rangitīkei MP Ian McKelvie wouldn't say explicitly whether or not he supported Collins, but expressed concern around her move against Bridges.
"I'm extraordinarily uncomfortable with the whole manner in which this has been managed," McKelvie said.
"[The leadership is] for the caucus to decide, but there's ways you behave in the world and ways you don't, and it's pretty clear to me that is what decides these things, and pretty quickly too."
Harete Hipango would not say whether she had confidence in the leader, and said some "cleaning up" needed to be done.
"I have had experience in such historic matters as a lawyer and this needs to be aired," Hipango said.
"I'm not disappointed. I'm of the view that there's some cleaning up to be done at this time," she said.
"I have confidence in what the National Party stands for, which is the values of representing New Zealanders," she said.
Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper told Hosking today: "I've never seen anything so feral in the National Party as what I've seen overnight."
Demoting Bridges was a "clear play" by Collins to sideline Bridges because he posed a leadership threat, Soper said.