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Luxon voted new National Party leader as Bridges withdraws

Nov 30, 2021

Christopher Luxon has been voted the new leader of the National Party after main rival Simon Bridges moved to support him.

It followed Judith Collins' tumultuous exit as leader last week, after she summarily demoted Bridges last week.

Shellshocked, MPs went into a hastily called caucus the next morning and cast a vote of no confidence in her. Deputy Shane Reti became interim leader and the vote for leader was set down for today.

"It is a tremendous privilege to lead our great party, and I thank my colleagues for the confidence they have placed in me," Luxon said in a statement shortly after the vote.

Luxon also said that he was pleased Willis had been chosen as his deputy.

"She will do an incredible job and we will be a formidable team."

He said he had entered politics because he is a problem solver who "gets things done".

"I have built a career out of reversing the fortunes of under-performing companies and I'll bring that real-world experience to this role."

Luxon said he and Willis would be working hard to earn back New Zealanders' trust and confidence "and deliver for them".

He also promised that the party would be unified under their leadership.

"We are the new National Party that New Zealand needs."

The pair will address a news briefing this afternoon.

Luxon's main rival, former leader Simon Bridges, tweeted his support for Luxon with just over an hour remaining before this afternoon's caucus meeting where the party voted on the new leader.

"This morning I met with Chris Luxon and had a great discussion. I am withdrawing from the leadership contest and will be backing Chris. He will make a brilliant National leader and Prime Minister," he said.

This morning I met with Chris Luxon and had a great discussion. I am withdrawing from the leadership contest and will be backing Chris. He will make a brilliant National leader and Prime Minister.

— Simon Bridges (@simonjbridges) November 30, 2021

Luxon had few words for the media as he arrived at Parliament this afternoon.

"Great day for the National Party, it's really wonderful today ... I'm looking forward to going to see my caucus colleagues," he said.

Other National MPs were saying little as they arrived at Parliament throughout the morning and early afternoon.

Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop, who had been raised as a possibility in initial speculation about the leadership, also backed Luxon.

"He's gonna make a great leader of the National Party, he's gonna make a great prime minister, I can't wait to serve in his team. It's an exciting day for New Zealand, big reset moment for the National Party."

He said Bridges would remain in the party.

"Simon's gonna be a critical part of the National team going forward, he's got undoubted political skills, I'm really loooking forward to serving with him, he's gonna make a great whatever role he gets from Christopher Luxon and National just resets now.

"We go forward together and we're gonna change the government in two years' time."

National Party's Christopher Luxon heads to Parliament for a caucus meeting after Simon Bridges expressed his support for him. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey said it would mean a new direction for the party.

"I'm looking for a fresh start and a new vision for the party, and a new vision for the country. I'm looking forward to that, it's exciting."

List MP Melissa Lee said she thought Luxon was "very experienced in life".

"He is very new but the thing is that he's not daft. He's a very intelligent man, I think he has led companies before and although it is actually a very different feel that experience does speak to his life experience and I think he will make a great leader."

More to come...

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