Judith Collins forced to rule out working with New Zealand First again after Simon Bridges puts it back on the table

National leader Judith Collins has been forced to rule out working with New Zealand First again after former leader Simon Bridges put it back on the table. 

After ruling out working with New Zealand First when he was National leader, Bridges reopened the prospect during a foreign affairs debate in Wellington on Thursday night. 

Bridges, sitting between New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabutaeu and ACT leader David Seymour, said, "Can I just make the peace between my two Cabinet colleagues in the next Government?"

Tabuteau noted National's change in position, "Oh, you will do a deal?"

"Oh, no, no sorry," Bridges replied, bumping his head with his palm. 

Bridges said he'd be making a "quick call" to Collins to let her know what he said. But he didn't make that call - Newshub told Collins on Friday. 

She laughed when asked if working with New Zealand First is back on the table.

"I think Fletcher's probably signing up for the National Party, I think that's what Simon's meaning," she said. "I think Simon was pulling your leg... we're allowed to have jokes in the National Party."

Collins confirmed, "There is no wish at all to deal with New Zealand First."

That's not the only trouble Bridges stirred during the debate, claiming the Government is set to announce a travel bubble with the Cook Islands on Monday. 

"Let me try and spike the announcement next week - I understand we are announcing the Cooks on Monday, and I look forward to that," Bridges said. 

That was news to Trade Minister David Parker, who joked, "As always, you know more than me."

Collins didn't know anything about it either. 

"We'll have to ask the Government. They don't seem to tell us anything until after they've done it."

Newshub asked the minister in charge of managed isolation facilities, Megan Woods, if she could confirm Bridges' claims. 

"Simon Bridges, I don't think, is privy to any of the Government's announcements," she said.  

Newshub understands work is progressing well on the Cook Islands bubble, but Cabinet has not yet made a final decision - they are meeting Monday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, when asked when New Zealanders can expect a call on the Cook Islands travel bubble, kicked it for touch. 

"You'll have to ask the Prime Minister," he said. 

He stuck the boot into Bridges. 

"Does he look like he's got the jump on me? No, be serious - does he look like he's got the jump on me?"

Bridges is confident he's right. 

"Let's see if I'm right Monday, you heard it here first, Jacinda [Ardern]'s probably moving it to Tuesday just because of that."