Winston Peters mocks National MPs for 'fighting from the backbenches' against new leaders Todd Muller, Nikki Kaye

Winston Peters has described National MPs anonymously speaking out against the new leadership team as "destroying internally the very party they belong to". 

National's new deputy leader Nikki Kaye took on the Deputy Prime Minister in Parliament on Thursday and it wasn't long before the internal struggles of both sides were brought up.  

Kaye questioned the stability of Peters' relationship with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the New Zealand First leader publicly declared his opposition to staying at COVID-19 alert level 2 for up to another month. 

Peters said on Wednesday Ardern "admitted" at Monday's Cabinet meeting there was concern from NZ First that the move to level 1 was taking too long, and Kaye suggested he broke Cabinet rules by revealing what his boss said privately. 

But the Prime Minister had already mentioned it during a press conference on Tuesday, saying there had been "serious concern from New Zealand First" but that waiting for up to a month for level 1 was the "consensus view". 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson leapt to Peters' defence in Parliament, suggesting Kaye worry about National's own "issues to do with confidentiality". 

It appeared to be a dig about Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien revealing earlier this week that National MPs were already leaking information against their new leadership team.  

Peters said it "deeply shocked" him that politicians could behave that way, where they would "use inside information to destroy internally the very party they belong to" - drawing laughter from other MPs. 

He said National MPs who have been "so heinously treated by demotion" have "decided to fight from the backbenches against those who are wrongly - and probably in vain - promoted".

The Prime Minister announced on Monday that Cabinet agreed to consider the move to alert level 1 no later than June 22, and Peters interpreted that as Ardern being open to level 1 coming into effect earlier than that. 

He said the date Ardern provided was "the latest" it could happen, which he said "means it could be before that date" and that the Prime Minister "envisages the possibility of it being sooner rather than later". 

Ardern also said Cabinet will review the alert level 1 settings on June 8 in less than two weeks. 

"Coming as soon as possible is the Prime Minister's aspiration," Peters said. "That's why she put these two dates out there which suggest, first a review and the outside date being the latest, which suggest it could be much sooner if the evidence suggests it should be so."

Ardern told reporters on Thursday that what's been "fundamental" to the Government's response to COVID-19 all along is going hard and going early "so that we could come out quickly and we are". 

She said New Zealand is "opening up much more rapidly than other countries but we don't want to jeopardise the very privileged position New Zealanders have earned". 

Ardern also signalled that a trans-Tasman travel 'bubble' could be in place by September - which Kaye appeared to flag as another discrepancy between Ardern and Peters, because he's said he wants it up and running "yesterday". 

She asked Peters if he had "advocated to her or the Cabinet to proceed faster around the trans-Tasman bubble", to which Peters replied, "Take a wild guess."

"We all have views to suggest and put forward, we all have alternative views, and discussion and proper debate is what this coalition government is becoming famous for."