Chris Bishop rules out National Party leadership challenge, says Judith Collins doing a 'great job'

Rising National Party MP Chris Bishop has ruled out challenging Judith Collins for the leadership, saying she's doing a "great job". 

Bishop made an appearance in the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, scoring 1.8 percent support for Prime Minister. 

"I was a bit surprised to be honest - what was it, 1.8 percent? Eighteen people out of 1000? It was nice I suppose," the 37-year-old list MP told Newshub Nation on Saturday.

"I've been working really hard in the first six months of this year on the COVID role I've been given."

National has struggled in the polls ever since the nationwide lockdown in 2020 to rid the country of COVID-19. After polling in the mid-40s in January, National fell to its worst election result in nearly two decades in October, getting just 25.6 percent support. 

Despite Collins' promise she'd resign if she couldn't get the party back over 35 percent, they've struggled to get out of the mid-20s. The past few weeks have been rough too, with controversies around former candidate Jake Bezzant, senior MP Paul Goldsmith and departing veteran Nick Smith.

"It's been a tough year or so for the National Party, I don't think I'm breaking confidences to say that," said Bishop. "Nick is a valued colleague and he's been a friend to me - it's sad to see him leave Parliament after 30 years. He actually hired me... back in '07. I like Nick, it's sad to see him go - particularly under the circumstances." 

Dr Smith abruptly resigned earlier this month. It's been alleged the resignation came after he was told by Collins a damaging story was about to drop in the media. No story ever eventuated, and Collins has denied it was a ploy to replace him with a lower-ranked ally

"I just don't have any idea about exactly what happened," said Bishop, asked if it was a sackable offence if proven.

"I genuinely don't know what transpired between Judith and Nick, or even what even happened. I don't know what happened. I genuinely don't know. I don't think Judith Collins would have done that to Nick, but I genuinely have no idea." 

He said he "absolutely" would not be challenging Collins for the leadership. 

"We've got a leader in Judith Collins, she is doing a great job. She inherited the job in very difficult circumstances last year... we've just got to get some forward momentum, get on the front foot... Judith's doing a great job."

He added that Collins would be the one to take them into the 2023 election.

Watch Newshub Nation 9:30am Saturday/10am Sunday on TV3, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Newshub Nation is supported by NZ On Air.