Bridges will emerge stronger after Ross spat - former National president

The spat between National's Simon Bridges and Jami-Lee Ross may have dampened the party's spirit, but former president Michelle Boag claims it will only strengthen Bridges' support. 

"Jami-Lee Ross was acting alone. I predict that today Simon Bridges will emerge from the National Party caucus with unanimous support of every other MP," Ms Boag told The AM Show. 

Mr Ross is due to find out his fate on Tuesday morning when the National Party caucus meets. A report yesterday pinned the blame on him for Mr Bridges' travel expenses being leaked to Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien. 

The documents leaked in August showed Mr Bridges spent more than $100,000 on travel and accommodation over the course of three months while on his national roadshow. 

Mr Bridges commissioned his own inquiry into the leaks from PwC. The report was released on Monday, and while it wasn't conclusive, the evidence pointed to Mr Ross. However, he still denies being the leaker. 

"The evidence establishes Jami-Lee Ross is the person who leaked the expenses and the sender of the text message," Mr Bridges said on Monday afternoon.

Ms Boag agrees, telling The AM Show Mr Ross has been known to be "irrational" and that "if there hadn't been this inquiry, who knows how long [Mr Ross'] behaviour would have gone on".

"We know who the perpetrator was. I couldn't believe it when I heard the possibility because I didn't think anyone in the National Party caucus would be that stupid," she said. 

Mr Ross sent out four tweets just minutes before Mr Bridges was due to speak to media about the investigation's findings, accusing Mr Bridges of falsely pinning blame on him. He also claimed he has evidence of Bridges "discussing... unlawful activity that he was involved in".

"If Jami-Lee has evidence of Bridges breaking the law, then he should go to the police. I understand he's on quite good terms with them and has had quite a lot to do with them lately," Ms Boag told The AM Show. 

"My understanding is that there have been conversations between him and a senior member of the police force about the leak issue."

The messy spat has led to calls for new National leadership, with The AM Show host Duncan Garner saying there is growing disquiet in the National Party over its current frontrunner.  

Internal polling has Simon Bridges favourability rating at negative 25 percent, a National source told Newshub, and there are now concerns over an amended donations return.  

But Ms Boag doubts there will be a leadership change, telling The AM Show Mr Ross has "reinforced Bridges' support [among the National caucus] because everyone else feels betrayed." 

"[The caucus] feel so angry that someone has treated their leader this way and that's why I predict that Bridges will come out of this stronger than when he went in."


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