Veteran National MP Anne Tolley has heaped praise on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, hinting her performance is why National has taken a hit in the polls.

Speaking to media ahead of the National party leadership showdown, Tolley said it was "entirely natural" to see her party take a hit during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

She says Ardern is being rewarded for doing "a good job", but was confident National could rally to win the election.

"It's entirely natural. We've all been dispersed back into the electorate and we've been locked out both of Parliament, and of the media," she said this morning.

Advertisement

Asked if National could make a comeback from 29 per cent in the polls, she said "of course they can".

"You've had Jacinda on television and radio dominating it for six or seven weeks. It's natural people would react to that.

"And she's done a good job of keeping the country together, so she's rewarded for that."

Veteran National MP Anne Tolley has heaped praise on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, hinting her performance is why National has taken a hit in the polls. Photo / NZ Herald
Veteran National MP Anne Tolley has heaped praise on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, hinting her performance is why National has taken a hit in the polls. Photo / NZ Herald

Tolley would not say who she would be backing but expressed some frustration about the distraction it was creating.

"I'd much rather be back in my electorate. It's the first chance I've had to get out and about since Covid lockdown. That's all I'm going to say."

Earlier this morning, senior National MP Judith Collins confirmed she would not be putting herself forward as a potential leader or deputy candidate.

Speaking to the AM Show, Collins said she did not throw her hat in the ring for the leadership because she didn't have "sufficient support in the caucus".

"I'm not interested in being the deputy for anyone," she said.

Advertisement

Collins said she was only interested in representing her Papakura electorate.

In terms of today's vote, she said: "Whatever happens, it needs to be clean".

National MP Todd Muller. Photo / File
National MP Todd Muller. Photo / File

She said she thought both Muller and Bridges had excellent qualities.

Collins said respect for the voters and people of New Zealand was important for her, and something she wants to see for National's leader.

She said Muller was a respectful man, and Bridges has "very good qualities".

In last night's 1News Colmar Brunton poll, Labour soared to 59 per cent support, while National fell to 29 per cent, its lowest on the poll since 2003.

The poll showed Jacinda Ardern as preferred prime minister at 63 per cent, with Bridges sitting at 5 per cent.

A wounded Simon Bridges has congratulated new National leader Todd Muller after his ousting.