Simon Bridges is keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to the possibility of working with Winston Peters.
Newshub can reveal National Party MPs discussed ruling him out and even formulating plans to try and crash his vote behind closed doors at the National Party Caucus retreat in Hamilton.
Simon Bridges is feeling good after his two day caucus in Hamilton.
The party is trying to gear up its policy machine this year - prepping for a good scrap in 2020
- Winston Peters will 'never' choose a successor
- Winston Peters issues dire warning over Chinese spying in New Zealand
- Winston Peters' 'moribund' comment 'very hurtful' - Simon Bridges
Simon Bridges thinks his chances of getting into government are pretty good.
"Look I think they're really strong" he told Newshub.
Under Mixed Member Proportional though, National has just one friend in Parliament and Mr Bridges won't say whether he'll try to woo Winston Peters, saying he doesn't know if he could work with him.
Mr Bridges says New Zealand First wasn't front of mind at his first caucus of the year - but couldn't quite bring himself to say it hadn't been discussed, as minor parties were not a focus of caucus.
"It wasn't a focus I'm not going to go through probably the tens of thousands of words that were spoken."
One caucus source has told Newshub that Winston and Peters were at least two of the 10,000 words spoken behind closed doors in their meetings and that the caucus had expressed they felt they couldn't work with him.
Winston Peters simply does not like Simon Bridges, saying "National is leaderless, it's moribund, it's vacuous and it's got bitter and jealous. No party can survive that sort of lack of leadership and survive long."
And Newshub understands National is weighing up dumping him before he dumps them.
How to solve a problem like Winston Peters is something Labour's grappling with too.
It's going to come to a head over whether to impose capital gains tax - Labour wants it but Mr Peters is vehemently opposed.
Jacinda Ardern says the results will be available when they're ready.
"Like I say this is a report we'll be putting out to the public that we'll be discussing with our coalition and confidence and supply partners."
NZ First and Labour need to find a way to disentangle themselves before the election to appeal to their own voters.
Newshub understands National is working on a strategy to crash Mr Peters vote below the 5% threshold so he's not an option for either party.
We've also been told caucus has come up with a magic number - 47% - that's what National thinks it needs to get into government if it can successfully destroy NZ First.