Any notion of a leadership challenge to National leader Bill English has been dismissed by Rotorua's MP, who says the former Prime Minister has his full support.

Todd McClay was one of more than 50 National MPs attending a caucus retreat in Tauranga this week.

The retreat came hot on the heels of speculation that English would stand down, and that an attempt to roll deputy leader Paula Bennett could also be on the cards.

But McClay has rubbished the suggestion, saying the party fully supported the pair.


"Bill English and Paula Bennett have the full support of caucus.

National leader Bill English. Photo / Ben Fraser
National leader Bill English. Photo / Ben Fraser

"Bill has my full support, he's done a very, very good job."

When asked if there had been any discussion about the leadership at the retreat, McClay said there had been "none at all".

"I wouldn't expect any, and I don't think there was ever any real suggestion."

He believed the speculation was the result of a few "quiet news days".

"We've got a lot of experience across the caucus, I've been particularly impressed with some of our new MPs."

McClay previously backed English during his bid for the leadership following the resignation of former Prime Minister John Key in 2016.

English has previously said the thought of resigning following Labour forming a government had crossed his mind, and he had not ruled out stepping down before the 2020 election.


That would depend on his performance and whether he retained public and caucus support, he said.

Those publicly backing English included Simon Bridges who is considered almost certain to try for the leadership if English quits.

Bridges said he believed the party could go into 2020 under the same leadership team but would need to make changes.

"Any government, and we were in government for nine years, doesn't get everything right. And we'll need to evolve with the times.

"But I think we can definitely do that with our current leadership."

Bridges said he did not believe English would quit.