Judith Collins rules out run for leadership, but won't rule out visit from Todd Muller offering deputy role

Judith Collins has completely ruled out a run for either leadership position of the National Party at Friday's emergency caucus meeting, but she's not ruling out a visit from leadership challenger Todd Muller asking her to be his deputy. 

Muller has been holed up somewhere in the capital working the phones. He told Newshub he has been "working from a private place and just ringing people because I needed a bit of space".

Newshub asked Muller if he visited Collins on Wednesday, and he said: "I've had many conversations with my colleagues and some visits over the last little while."

Asked if he offered her the deputy leadership position, he said: "None of this is accurate." 

But Collins did not rule out having the visit from Muller.

"Lots of people talk to me, and I've talked to so many MPs, and I never disclose who it is I've talked to, where we've met or anything like that," she told Newshub.

Though this time around, Collins is completely ruling out a crack at the leadership or deputy leadership.

"Absolutely - I will not be putting my hand up for any leadership position tomorrow."

She also would not confirm her preference for National leader, telling Newshub, "I am personally not telling anybody where I'm voting, thank you."

Former National Party leadership hopeful Mark Mitchell told Newshub he won't be trying again, which is good news for Muller's most likely deputy Nikki Kaye.

Muller did not provide certainty over whether Kaye will definitely be his deputy. 

When Kaye arrived at Wellington Airport on Thursday, Newshub asked if she would be running for the deputy leadership role.

"I think these issues are matters for the caucus," she said. "I think it's really important in terms of the respect of my caucus colleagues that we let these issues happen in the caucus room."

The latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll showed National down to 30.6 percent and Bridges' preferred Prime Minister ranking down to 4.5 percent.

But although those numbers are dire, Party leader Simon Bridges is confident he has the numbers in caucus to win the leadership challenge.

National MPs returned en masse to Wellington on Thursday for a midday caucus meeting to be held on Friday to decide the leadership, which contender Muller confirmed in an email to the caucus on Wednesday.

Bridges said on Thursday he is "very confident" he has the numbers to fend off the challenge - but Muller's team is equally as confident of a win.

Regardless, it is on. Muller's wife flew into Wellington for the event, and so too Bridges' wife Natalie with her daughter Jemima.

"I'm here to support my husband and the National Party," Natalie told Newshub.

Asked if she thinks he's got what it takes to win, she said: "I think he's got it."

Unfortunately for Bridges, she doesn't get a vote. The National MPs who will get a vote flooded into Wellington Airport - but hardly offered resounding support.

Asked if he will support Bridges, National MP Gerry Brownlee said "no comment".

National MP Michael Woodhouse said, "I've got nothing more to say until tomorrow."

National MP Jo Hayes had a similar response: "You'll just have to wait for until tomorrow."

And National MP Andrew Bayly did not break the trend: "Tomorrow we will find out who is the best leader to go forward from here."

Questions have been raised about whether Muller has been plotting and wooing MPs around the country for months.

MPs travel expenses from January to March out on Thursday show Muller spent up large - almost as much as the party leader - and $7500 ahead of the next highest National MP.

His road travel costs doubled in the previous quarter, so too his out of Wellington accommodation.

Muller is National's agriculture spokesman and he said the extra travel expenses were because of the many meetings he held with farmers.

Newshub asked if there were any MPs in those meetings, and he said, "There would probably be a few but the main focus was always farmer meetings."

As National leader, Bridges has ruled out working with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters after the election - but Muller would not say if that would change if he was leader.

"Oh, come on, I don't want to have to hang up," he said.

When Bridges was asked by Newshub why he will not stand down given the bad poll numbers, he said, "I've addressed all those questions... Have a good day."