Live updates: Todd Muller resigns as National Party leader

Judith Collins has been announced as the new leader of the National Party. 

It follows former leader Todd Muller's resignation on Tuesday morning.

In a statement, Muller said it had "become clear to me that I am not the best person to be leader of the Opposition and leader of the New Zealand National Party at this critical time for New Zealand".

Muller became the National Party's leader on May 22 after he rolled Simon Bridges. His deputy was Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye who took over as acting leader until a permanent leader was chosen.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Judith Collins is the new leader of the National Party
  • Gerry Brownlee is the new deputy leader
  • Todd Muller resigned as the party leader on Tuesday morning
  • MP Paul Goldsmith said Muller has been facing "health issues".
  • PM Jacinda Ardern has sent her best wishes to Muller

These live updates have now finished.

9:58pm - Collins has a message for the Prime Minister: "I would say that Jacinda Ardern is someone who I respect as a person, but I know that myself, Gerry and the rest of our team will be a far better government than she could ever be."

9:55pm - Collins has remained tight-lipped on what her reshuffled shadow Cabinet may look like.

"Clearly there's a few people who need to [move in] because of Gerry and I shifting around positions. You'll see some changes, but I don't think you'll see a wholesale."

9:50pm - She says being the leader is not the final goal for her.

"I've often said that leader of the Opposition is actually not the prize. We know what the prize is - that's what we're after."

9:45pm - Collins says she'll unite the National Party caucus by having a "common goal".

"The common goal is to get rid of the current Government and to put in place a far better government focussed on the people of this country and what they're going to need."

The National Party caucus.
The National Party caucus. Photo credit: Newshub

9:41pm - "I think it's a big job ahead, but I know that we as a team can do it." Those are Judith Collins' first words to the public as leader.

9:40pm - The new leadership team is about to speak to media.

9:38pm - Judith Collins says she feels "privileged" to be the new National Party leader.

"My focus as leader will be helping rebuild our communities and dealing with the economic and jobs crisis by getting Kiwis back to work," she says.

"Only National has the experience and skills to get us through this. We are a strong team and I look forward to forming the next Government."

9:35pm - Gerry Brownlee has been confirmed as the deputy leader. Read the latest here.

9:30pm - Former National Party leader Don Brash is "very pleased" to hear Collins is the new leader.

"I've been a strong backer of Judith for a long time. I favoured her as the leadership when Bill English stood down," he says.

"Why did I do that? Partly because she's had experience in both Opposition - six years in Opposition - and of course in government - nine years in government - holding a whole range of portfolios."

9:25pm - Here's a behind the scenes look at Newshub's live coverage of the leadership battle.

9:15pm - This is the first time since 2001 National has had a female leader. Former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley led the party from 1997 to 2001. She was PM from 1997 to 1999.

If Collins remains the leader until the election, it will be the second election in New Zealand's history where the two major parties were led by women. The last time this happened was 1999, where former prime ministers Helen Clark and Shipley battled to lead the country.

9:05pm - There is speculation Gerry Brownlee is National's new deputy leader.

9:00pm - Judith Collins has been confirmed as the new leader of the National Party.

8:40pm - Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien understands the leadership contest could spill into Wednesday.

"It is being contested so it could take a lot longer than expected. Either Nikki Kaye is going to come down here and tell us what the process is from here on out, or they're going to make a decision tonight."

8:35pm - Political commentator Trish Sherson says it's important National elects a strong leader.

"If you're quite crass about it, what you're looking for in this person is someone with more front than a rat with a gold tooth. They really have to be able to let it all wash over them," she says.

"Can you imagine when National returns into the House, the Government is going to have an absolutely field day around this shambles. So whoever they choose has to really, really want this and really love it so they can bat all of that away and just steamroll ahead."

8:30pm - Former National MP Chris Finlayson says the party needs to draw on its traditions.

"It's a great political party. I canvassed for the National Party in Karori in the depths of the Muldoon years… I've known the good times and the bad times, but the party both inside and outside Parliament is a great party and it'll come through this," he says.

8:25pm - Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien says clapping has been heard from National's caucus room.

"[We have] heard some clapping. It had been silent for a significant period of time before that. There was a little bit of cackling that came in between the two long silences," she says.

"It's kind of like morse code - silence, cackling, silence."

8:15pm - Former United Future leader Peter Dunne says it's possible Todd Muller underestimated the leadership job that was ahead of him.

"I feel very sorry for him. I think everyone feels compassion and sympathy for his plight, but it does look as though he got into something that was far bigger than he ever imagined it to be," he says.

"Rather than let it overwhelm him, I think he's taken the pretty courageous course of getting out early."

Peter Dunne.
Peter Dunne. Photo credit: The AM Show

8:05pm - A National Party insider told Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien that "Muller was the worst leader National ever had". Another said: "This place is very divided, more than ever before."

8:00pm - Magic Talk host Ryan Bridge says it's a "moot point" to ask whether Simon Bridges could return as leader.

"The question doesn't really matter because he's no longer the leader. Going back to an old leader is a little bit like going back to an old boyfriend or an old girlfriend - they better be damn hot for that to happen, and he just wasn't hot."

7:55pm - David Seymour says it is a "terrible day for the National Party". 

Seymour offered his "condolences" to former National Leader Todd Muller. The ACT Party leader wished Muller and his family the best.

7:50pm - Political commentator Josie Pagani says Judith Collins could be National's leadership "wildcard".

"Maybe she'll do a Jacinda, maybe she'll be that change candidate that comes in," she told Newshub.

"Don't forget this is about the same time in 2017 when Andrew Little resigned - and he made the right decision. It could be that Todd Muller's made exactly the right decision for National. She could be that wildcard."

7:40pm - Newshub's political editor Tova O'Brien has heard from a source Mark Mitchell and Louise Upston have formed a team in National's leadership race. She also says Simon Bridges is not going for the leadership.

7:30pm - Newshub's live coverage of National's leadership crisis has begun. Watch it above.

7:15pm - Here are the moments that led Muller to quit after just 53 days as leader, political reporter Jenna Lynch writes.

"First he capitulated over a Make America Great Again hat, then he announced an all-white front bench and haplessly tried to defend it.

"His caucus began leaking against him. Newshub gained access to secret internal polls showing him doing worse than the guy he brutally knifed.

"Then last week, the week from hell arrived: rogue MP Hamish Walker hurtled the party into scandal, admitting he leaked sensitive COVID-19 patient data."

7:05pm - The National Party caucus hallway has been blocked off with a huge banner now its crisis meeting is underway.

Live updates: Todd Muller resigns as National Party leader
Photo credit: Newshub

6:55pm - Bay of Plenty residents were shocked to hear their local MP had resigned as leader.

One told Newshub they thought Muller was "doing alright" leading National, and other said it was "a bit of a surprise" he stepped down.

6:40pm - These are the serious contenders for the National Party leadership, writes Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien.

"Collins is extremely likely to have competition. Newshub has been talking to National MPs who are convinced former National Party leader Simon Bridges will have another crack," she says.

O'Brien spoke to National MP Simon O'Connor, who said a Bridges comeback is a possibility. 

"Oh, I think there's always a possibility. I think a number of people will put their hat in the ring," he said.

6:15pm - Appearing on RNZ's Checkpoint on Tuesday afternoon, former United Future party leader Peter Dunne said National needs to ensure the "wound is staunched as much as possible."

"The mission for National has got to be... make sure they get both feet back, if they do well enough then whoever is the leader I think they've got a good claim to say 'we've come this far, let's carry on the journey over the next three years', but if they fail miserably, then who knows.

"I mean this is a bit like when the Labour Party threw Geoffrey Palmer to the walls and put in Mike Moore desperately to save them, and in the end they actually ended up two seats worse off than they would've been had they not made the change, and I think that's the scenario that the National Party has got to worry about coming to fruition."

5:25pm - Former National MP Chris Finlayson says National needs to choose someone who's tough, has economics experience and has ministerial experience.

"We all know Jacinda's good on the warm aspirational stuff, but we need someone who is going to do to her what John Key did to Phil Goff in 2011 [the election debate]," he told Magic Talk host Ryan Bridge.

"I think there's one person who's got economic experience… and that's Judith. I think cometh the moment, cometh the person. And Judith, who's always modelled herself on Margaret Thatcher, would be a tough and demanding person who could ask the sorts of questions of Jacinda that need to be asked."

4:30pm - Judith Collins, Nikki Kaye, Simon Bridges and Mark Mitchell aren't ruling out a run for the National Party leadership.

When asked earlier on Tuesday if he wanted the job back, Bridges responded "let's see what happens".

He didn't reply when asked if he would rule out putting his name forward or if he would bring back his deputy leader Paula Bennett if successful.

Collins wouldn't say whether she was ruling herself in or out.

"Obviously we'll be leaving all that matter up to our discussions... I'm just going to have those discussions in caucus," Collins said.

"I'm certainly a member of the wonderful National Party team and I'm happy to be so."

Mitchell wouldn't say if he would put his hand up after failing in his previous leadership run.

"I will not be drawn on that at all because I have said I will respect the process and the process is we will come together as a caucus this evening and we'll work out what we're going to do from there," he said.

And Kaye didn't rule out taking a tilt at the role either.

"What is important at this time is that we have compassion for Todd", she said.

Live updates: Todd Muller resigns as National Party leader
Photo credit: Getty + File

3:45pm - Dr Shane Reti isn't ruling out a leadership bid, according to Māori Television.

It's reporting Dr Reti, currently 17 on the party list, was approached this afternoon and asked if he would consider taking on the National leadership.

"He didn’t discount it and said: 'All of these decisions will be made later tonight'," its article states.

3:15pm - Muller's resignation is a National nightmare - and a sign of a toxic political culture, writes Richard Shaw.

Shaw, a Professor of Politics at Massey University in Auckland, writes it is an "inauspicious time" to change leader.

"It is difficult to think of a more challenging set of circumstances in which to take over leadership of any political party: a hugely popular prime minister; a global pandemic; a divided party that leaks disastrously and has trouble identifying its own people's ethnicity; and a timeframe that is not so much tight as suffocating," he says.

3pm - Newshub's political editor Tova O'Brien says tonight is "finally Judith Collins' night".

"This is her moment. Sixty-seven days out from the election and after 18 years in politics Collins will no doubt see herself as the most viable opponent to take on the vastly popular Jacinda Ardern," O'Brien writes.

"If Collins has the numbers, National could have a new leader by tonight."

O'Brien says National would be best served by a swift change of guard - but warns things could get messy.

"National is a party in crisis and when you've got your back against the wall and nothing to lose, the gloves are off. The party is heading into the ring with half a dozen fighters. Bloody noses, bruised egos are inevitable."

2:55pm - National MPs including acting leader Nikki Kaye have just touched down in Wellington ahead of the leadership showdown.

Kaye wouldn't rule out if she was running for National's top spot herself.

2:50pm - Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger has told RNZ that National needs a leader who can "refocus the thinking of New Zealand".

"We had bold leadership to manage the virus - full marks - now we have to have bold leadership to manage the aftermath and that requires a real look at how we go about taxing and spending because at the moment they're just totally out of kilter with reality.

"And I just hope there are leaders out there, in all parties, that'll step up to that."

 

 

2:35pm - Here's a recap of Todd Muller's achievements in 53 days as National Party leader.

2:05pm - Right-wing political commentator Liam Hehir comments on the reactions to Muller's resignation.

"First, it's entirely fair and appropriate and perhaps even necessary to assess Muller's record as leader of the Opposition (not good by almost any standard). Politicians need to be accountable, especially where they make questionable judgments," he tweeted.

"It does not follow, however, that unfounded disbelief or the minimisation of any mental health issues he may or may not have had is fair game."

1:55pm - National whip Barbara Kuriger says the next National leader will be decided in the next 24-48 hrs, reports Newshub political reporter Anna Bracewell-Worrall.

Kuriger says she found out about Muller's resignation on Monday night, and wasn't told by Muller himself.

1:39pm - National's social development spokesperson Louise Upston said Muller standing down was a "great shock" to the National Party caucus.

"We had a caucus call this morning, and as I say it was a bit of a shock, and my thoughts are with him and his family," she told Newshub.

Upston said caucus was told about his resignation at the same time as a caucus conference call early on Tuesday morning.

"It's a really important consideration for us to decide who's the best person to lead the National Party and to demonstrate to New Zealand that we have a strong alternative to the current Government and we've got to focus on their interests and that's what we'll be doing when we choose our leader."

1:25pm - National MP Nick Smith said it's a difficult time for the National Party.

"The National Party will come through today strong and ready to contest the 2020 election," he told Newshub.

He wouldn't comment on who would make a good replacement.

"I don't want to comment on that. We'll get that worked through and we'll be better and stronger for it."

1:20pm - Health Minister Chris Hipkins says it is a difficult time for National. He said politics is demanding and can take a toll on you.

"Some people cope better with that than others."

He said Muller had a "really good crack" at the job.

1:15pm - National's Northcote MP Dan Bidois said he's optimistic the National Party will get through this.

"We've got great policies, great ideas and a great team," he told Newshub. "New Zealand's going through a tough time at the moment; they deserve a good contest and a National-led Government."

Bidois said he sent Muller a message of support.

"It's very sad news to hear about Todd Muller. But I'm really optimistic that we'll come through this. We're going to make a swift decision at caucus and move on because we've got a campaign to run."

Bidois added: "It's Todd's mind to make up for his health reasons and all I can say is that I'm optimistic that we'll get through this."

1:05pm - Mark Mitchell said the party is turning its mind to future leadership, but wouldn't comment on whether he will put his hat in the ring.

He has spoken to Paula Bennett. They didn't discuss a leadership ticket, he said. He doesn't see that as a viable proposition.

"Whoever emerges as our leader after the caucus meeting over the next two days will be ready to go up against Jacinda Ardern and this Labour-led Government."

1pm: Simon Bridges wouldn't comment when asked if he wanted the leadership back.

He did say being the Leader of the Opposition job is difficult. 

"A lot of people say, but I know, being the Leader of the Opposition is the toughest job in politics," he said.

"It's also a tough time for the National Party, and I suppose at the end of the day, when the going gets tough, the tough get going."

12:55pm - Alfred Ngaro says everyone is "feeling for Todd and Michelle". 

"It just goes to prove politics and also leadership is a tough job."

He wouldn't speculate on who the next leader will be.

12:35pm - Newshub Political Editor Tova O'Brien says Muller's resignation takes the party into "uncharted territory". 

"No one saw this coming. Not least Muller himself.

"Newshub understands most MPs only found out about Muller's resignation when the press statement was sent out at 7:30am on Tuesday morning, and he was unable to make it to an emergency teleconference caucus call.

"Muller's statement said the leadership role had 'become untenable from a health perspective'.
Newshub understands the statement relates to his mental health."

12:25pm - Judith Collins is feeling "really sorry for Todd Muller" and said he was a "delight to work with". 

Collins wouldn't rule out putting her hat in the ring for the National Party leadership.

"I am just going to have the discussion in caucus".

Asked if this is her moment, she said: "It is my moment to focus on my caucus and the team that I am part of, which is the National Party team". 

Collins believes the National Party can come back from this.

Meanwhile, Paula Bennett, the former deputy who announced her resignation from politics recently, isn't at her electorate office.

12:20pm - Simon Bridges says his thoughts are with Todd Muller. 

"Opposition Leader is a very tough role & I wish Todd and his family the best for the future."

11:55am - Tom Sainsbury isn't the only one providing a humorous response to Muller's resignation.

A Facebook page has been set up calling for Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the Director-General of Health, to become National's leader.

There have also been a lot of comments about yaks, referencing videos and images of Simon Bridges hanging out with yaks

11:50am - National MP for Tamaki, Simon O'Connor, told Newshub there are issues that need to be addressed.

"It's clearly a series of issues that need to be addressed, so looking forward to a meeting this evening where we can sort this out."

He said there is a possibility that former leader Simon Bridges could become leader again.

"I think there's always a possibility. I think a number of people will put their hat in the ring. At the moment I'm not exactly sure who - I can probably tell you it's not me."

O'Connor said he wants to see the National Party address "problems that have led to this situation".

"I'm a naturally optimistic person. Talking to my people across Tamaki today, they're disappointed, but they are enthusiastic to get Labour out of Government."

11:40am - Labour MP Phil Twyford told Newshub politics is a "tough business" and "it can have a real effect on individuals and their families".

"Politics is a tough environment to work in and we all have our strategies for dealing with it and I think we probably all rely on close friends and family. It is an occupational hazard and I think political parties and Parliament have got better at providing support to people and that is important."

11:30am - In his statement on Tuesday morning, Muller said he was looking forward "to continuing to serve as a loyal member of the National Party team and Member of Parliament for Bay of Plenty".

Here's what other former National Party leaders did after their time at the top came to an end, written after Bridges left the job.

11:25am - National's finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said Muller has been facing "health issues" but did not expand on what those health issues were.

"He's had some health issues that he's dealing with so we're focussed to get down to caucus. Obviously New Zealanders want to be talking about things that matter to them and we want to have a contest in this election and we'll be very focused on getting on to that."

Goldsmith said Muller's resignation was a "great shock".

"Obviously it's a very difficult situation, we're on our way down to Wellington, we'll have a caucus and we'll get results as quickly as we can."

11:15am - Senior National MP Gerry Brownlee has commented on Muller's resignation.

"I think Todd has made a decision that's in his best interests. He's a guy that I will always respect. I think he's shown a high degree of integrity in his decision and we wish him well for the next journey that he's going on," he told Newshub.

"It's certainly a big glitch - there's no question about that. But all the issues that will be discussed during the election will continue to be discussed. The country is still facing very tough economic times. The country does need a plan to get out of it - when we have a new leader that will be laid out."

As for who will be the next leader, Brownlee was tight-lipped.

"The caucus will make a determination in due course."

Brownlee was Muller's campaign chair.

"I'm disappointed for him because it's a difficult decision to be made. But I admire him for making it and I wish him well for the things he has to deal with now."

Brownlee denied Muller lied during questions last week about confidential COVID-19 patient data leaked to MPs from ex-National Party president Michelle Boag.

"I think there was a lot of misinformation that was flying around last week. I think he was put in a very awkward position and I think he handled it very well. We now intend to move on with a new leader."

Brownlee also denied that the coup against former leader Simon Bridges was needless.

"The caucus made a decision about the leadership at a time when we were not getting cut-through with the public that we needed - and it made a difference."

11am - There has been a lot of reaction to Muller's resignation. 

Here's Newshub's latest articles in case you need to catch up:

10:45am - Muller's colleagues are thinking of him and his family.

"I want to give Todd my greatest respect and give him some time. He has worked incredibly hard. He has been very popular. He has turned the fortunes of the National Party around. Clearly, that has taken some sort of toll," says National MP Lawrence Yule.

MP Matt King said: "Politics is really brutal and I just feel for Todd and his family. It is tough going."

"I know as much as you know - I know nothing," MP Jo Hayes told Newshub. 

National's senior whip Barbara Kuriger said in a statement that MPs' thoughts are "very much with Todd and his family at this difficult time as is our compassion and love for Todd".

Former Labour Leader and now-Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the Leader of the Opposition role isn't a walk in the park.

"Having spent three years as Leader of the Opposition myself, I know just how difficult that job can be.

"Unlike what sometimes people imagine, as Leader of the Opposition, you don't control all the circumstances around you. The leaking of those names created a situation for him that he wasn't able to handle."

10:30am - The Opportunities Party (TOP) leader Geoff Simmons says the National Party is "imploding" and "doesn't have a chance" this year.

"This year the minor parties will be providing the major opposition to an ascendant Labour Party. Kiwis who want diversity of representation in our next Parliament, and who want to keep the Labour Party accountable, must vote for a minor party," he said.

"I believe that many National supporters will seriously be reconsidering their vote this year." 

10:20am - National Party President Peter Goodfellow has acknowledged Muller's resignation.

10:05am - Hannah Tamaki, leader of Vision New Zealand, says Muller's resignation is a "further indication of the insidious problems hidden in the belly of New Zealand politics". 

"While I sympathise with Todd Muller I'm not surprised by at anything that happens within New Zealand politics now, and that's a shame" said Tamaki.

"New Zealand does not need another CEO, corporate leader or career politician who rises to the top job by corporate tussle. New Zealand now needs a leader who is in touch with the people and the real grassroots issues ailing this country and bringing us to our knees."

10am - The Greens' James Shaw is the latest party leader to comment on Muller's announcement.

"There's no denying that working in politics can take a personal toll and we wish Mr Muller and his family the best.

"We know that New Zealanders want policies and ideas, not politics. The Green Party is focused on delivering bold new ideas for Aotearoa, like our Poverty Action and Clean Energy Plans, and we're really excited to keep sharing our vision for a fairer Aotearoa as we move to the election.”

9:55am - Comedian Tom Sainsbury has reacted to the resignation with a Simon Bridges impersonation.

9:50am - Speaking to Magic Talk, Newshub's Mitchell Alexander said the National Party caucus was told of the resignation five minutes before the announcement. He described MPs as being "in shock".

"Those I have spoken to didn't see it coming either."

9:40am - New Zealand First MP Jenny Marcroft says Muller is a "good man". 

"I wish him and his family well."

9:30am - Former National Party Finance Minister Steven Joyce told NZME that it was a "tough time" for the party. He has yet to speak to Muller or Kaye.

Joyce said with Muller being elected leader so close to the election, the pressure was piled on.

"My read of it, looking at his press release, is that obviously, obviously, it's created some health issues from his perspective. You have got to respect that."

His advice to MPs was to unite behind a single figure "who you believe will do the best job now and then shut up and get on with it".

The former United Future leader, Peter Dunne, said Judith Collins is in a good position to become leader.

"It's staunching the wound that's important... she's probably best-placed to do that," he told NZME.

9:20am - Act leader David Seymour has now commented on the resignation.

"Being a leader is a much more competitive environment and I admire him for having the self-honesty and the honesty with those around him to recognise it wasn’t working and you’ve got to give him some respect for that."

9:15am - Who do you think should be the next National Party leader? Vote in the Newshub poll. If you can't see the poll, click here.

9:10am - The AM Show hosts were left "shocked" after Muller announced his resignation as the leader.

You can watch the moment the news broke here.

8:55am - New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has sent his sympathies to Muller and his family. 

"Todd is a good man, unlike most of his colleagues he does have commercial experience, and he will bounce back.

"Leading a divided and incompetent caucus would have tested even the best leader. The National caucus now has the unenviable job of selecting its fourth leader since the Coalition Government took office.

"The National caucus, like too many parties in parliament, lacks business experience, life experience and political experience. Heaven only knows who will be the next cab off the ranks selected to lead such a dispirited and incompetent lot."

Peters said Muller "never had a chance given the fault lines of ambition, personality, and ideology that run deep through the National Party caucus".

"National has demonstrated to voters as clearly as it is able that it cannot govern itself.

"During a time of crisis, when stability and real experience is what the country needs from its politicians and their parties, National's instability and hubris takes it out of the running for the coming General Election.

"Voters will now focus on which parties have demonstrated stability and exhibited the experience required to help guide New Zealand through its present challenges."

8:50am - Nikki Kaye will be the acting leader of the National Party until caucus votes.

8:30am - Bryce Edwards said the conversation will now turn to who Muller's replacement will be. He said the likes of Nikki Kaye and Judith Collins will be in the conversation. 

"Judith Collins will be talked about, but her association with dirty politics I think will rule her out. Some people will be nostalgic for maybe Simon Bridges coming back, but again I think that would be a backwards move.

"Amy Adams is another option".

Gerry Brownlee could take on a caretaker-like role, Edwards and The AM Show's Duncan Garner suggested.

8:25am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she has "just heard the news about the resignation of Mr Muller as leader of the National Party".

"No matter what side of parliament you’re sitting, politics is a difficult place. I have passed on my best wishes to Mr Muller and his family."

8:20am - Newshub understands an emergency meeting will be held at 7pm on Tuesday night, with MPs flying into Wellington throughout the day. The party wants it wrapped within 24 hours.

8:15am - The National Party caucus are in an emergency teleconference. 

Reporter Anna Bracewell-Worrall told The AM Show that Newshub has had weekly leaks from the caucus.  

8:10am - Here's the full statement from Muller in case you missed it:

8:05am - Political commentator Bryce Edwards said Muller's handling of last week's "Hamish Walker debacle" was the "turning point".

"National had been doing quite well rebuilding under Muller, but then with the Hamish Walker debacle and Muller's role in it, it was looking like they couldn't win this election."

Edwards said Muller would have been under immense pressure.

8am - Judith Collins replied to a message from Newshub saying she couldn't talk.

7:55am - News of Muller's resignation broke during The AM Show. Host Duncan Garner reacted with shock.

"I don't think he was ready to be leader because he was the numbers man. From my understanding, from what I knew about this coup, Nikki Kaye and Todd Muller were in charge of getting the numbers for the leader but that leader pulled out and didn't want the job at the end, he didn't have the guts for this and that's when Muller and Kaye were promoted.

"They didn't look comfortable from day one. He didn't have a plan, that says everything. He was goldfishing from the start."

He said it was a "devastating blow to the party".

Sports presenter Mark Richardson said he was left "shocked" by the announcement.

"I say good on him for making this move, it would have been very, very easy to have gone 'I can't, people are relying on me so I need to see this through the election.' But it's not right for him, I think it's a great move."

7:50am - In his first weeks in the job, Muller had to explain a Make America Great Again cap in his office and the lack of Māori MPs on his front bench.

Last week, the National Party became embroiled in scandal after backbench MP Hamish Walker admitted leaking personal health data of COVID-19 patients to the media. He received that information from former National Party President Michelle Boag.

7:35am - Muller has just released a statement announcing he will stand down as the National Party leader.

He said the role had taken a "heavy toll on me personally and on my family and this has become untenable from a health perspective".

"For that reason I will be stepping down as Leader effective immediately," Muller said.

"I intend to take some time out of the spotlight to spend with family and restore my energy before reconnecting with my community.

"I look forward to continuing to serve as a loyal member of the National Party team and Member of Parliament for Bay of Plenty."

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