Simon Bridges plays coy about a coup as Judith Collins vows to never resign as National Party leader

Judith Collins says she will never resign as leader despite causing yet another distraction for the National Party, this time failing to wear a mask inside while buying an ice cream - a breach of Delta 2 rules.

For the first time since lockdown, MPs - apart from Aucklanders - have returned to Parliament, including former National leader Simon Bridges, who's playing coy about a coup.

Collins and her deputy Shane Reti, meanwhile, faced questions about being filmed by a bystander at a Queenstown café over the weekend ordering ice cream without masks on.

Picking the best ice cream flavour is hard, but it's not as hard as beating COVID-19, which is why - even under level 2 - masks are mandatory while you weigh up hokey pokey or cookies n cream. 

Collins acknowledged she made a mistake.

"Oh absolutely, I think we would have kept our masks on a little longer," she said on Tuesday, echoed by Dr Reti who said: "We'll certainly do it differently next time."

The breach was made so much worse for Collins because she'd just used the word 'hypocrite' to call out microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles for also breaking the rules.

"I watched that video, and I thought: big fat hypocrite," Collins said earlier this month after footage emerged of Dr Wiles at a beach with a friend during Auckland's alert level 4 without wearing a mask. 

Collins has no regrets about her language. 

"No, I think it's very important that in a level 4 lockdown that people who are advising other people how to operate, should do so too."

It's yet another distraction for National still reeling after ACT leader David Seymour started gaining on Collins and National in the polls. Some of her MPs anonymously told Newshub last week the phones are ringing, and Collins will be rolled.

But National MPs Newshub spoke to on their way into Parliament on Tuesday wouldn't give much away. 

"Judith has the caucus's support," said Matt Doocey. 

"It's pretty ridiculous and hypothetical, to be honest," added Chris Bishop. 

"There's no resignation happening," said Nicola Willis. 

Collins gave a definitive answer when asked if she will ever resign as leader. 


'Ever' is a long time and Collins may not have a choice. Former leader Simon Bridges - pointedly mindful of not breaking COVID-19 mask rules as he showed up to work on Tuesday - is being touted within caucus as the Collins coup successor. And he's making little effort to quash it.

"It is not my intention to seek the leadership of the National Party," Bridges said, when asked if he had the numbers. 

Collins denies Bridges is a threat. 

"No, he's a very positive contributor," she said. 

Until Auckland MPs can also physically return to Parliament next month, the threat is contained. The question is: does Bridges have a chance at leading the party again?

"What we think in Rangitikei we keep to ourselves," said National MP Ian McKelvie, when asked that very question.

From National MP Maureen Pugh, who Bridges once described as "f***ing useless", it's an emphatic no. 

"Been there, done that," she said. 

It seems there is still some doubt over the appetite for a Simon Bridges sequel.