National leader Simon Bridges has tried to talk New Zealand First MPs, including Ron Mark, into leaving the party, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has claimed.
Peters was speaking to Newstalk ZB today about a clause in the New Zealand First constitution which essentially binds MPs to the party - with a $300,000 penalty if they resign or are expelled and don't leave Parliament promptly.
"The leader of the National Party Simon Bridges has been talking to members of my caucus about how they might jump the ship and stay on, doing a deal with them. This is how bad and how rotten it is," Peters said.
He named Defence Minister and New Zealand First MP Ron Mark as a target of Bridges' approaches.
"He's been witnessed saying 'look come on Ron, let's just do a deal. You can have Wairarapa'. In short he was talking about dumping his local MP called [Alastair] Scott. So, you know, pretty bad stuff."
Mark did not return a call for comment but in a text message said "Wow, how did you find out about that."
Bridges denied he had made any such approach to any NZ First caucus member.
"This is yet more fake news from Winston Peters. I don't think I've even had a conversation with Ron Mark this year let alone made any suggestions to him.
"Winston should be focused on things that matter to New Zealand instead of distractions and sideshows."
Bridges said Scott was a hard-working member for Wairarapa.
"I intend to keep it that way."