Election 2020: National's Gerry Brownlee tossing up resignation; backs Collins to stay on as leader

National Party deputy leader Gerry Brownlee threw his support behind leader Judith Collins to remain in the top job Phot / Mark Mitchell

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National’s campaign chair, and senior MP, Gerry Brownlee is tossing up leaving Parliament for good after losing his long-held Ilam seat last night.

He has also thrown his support behind leader Judith Collins to remain in the top job, saying rolling her would be “totally the wrong thing” to do right now.

As has Rodney MP Mark Mitchell, who’s name has been tossed about as a potential leadership contender.

But, speaking to Q&A this morning, he “absolutely” ruled out challenging Collins for the leadership.

“That’s not on the table, it’s the furthest thing from my mind”.

Brownlee put on a brave face this morning, after his party suffered the second-worst election loss in its history.

At 49.1 per cent, Labour won enough seats to govern alone. National, meanwhile, won just 26.8 per cent – 20 MPs will lose their jobs.

Brownlee conceded that Labour’s victory was a “historic win” and he was “a little disappointed”.

“We have had a shocking year, we have had a shocker,” he said.

Brownlee took over as campaign chair in July and has been a National MP for almost 25 years.

He entered Parliament in 1996, winning the Christchurch seat of Ilam and has held it ever since.

But last night, he lost it by fewer than 2000 votes.

Asked about his future this morning, he said that was something for him to think about over the next few days.

“I’m going to have a think about things over the next few days.”

He does, however, believe Collins should stay on as leader and he said she has expressed a desire to “stick around”.

“At the moment, Judith Collins is the leader of the National Party and has the support of the caucus.”

He said Collins performed “incredibly well under huge pressure”.

Brownlee said it had been a tough campaign for his party and National will now have an internal review.

And he addressed his own mistakes along the campaign trail, including his “interesting series of facts” comments.

In August, when asked about face mask guidelines from the Ministry of Health, he said it was “interesting” that the rules came after Ardern visited a mask factory and Health boss Ashley Bloomfield got a Covid-19 test.

Asked about those comments this morning, Brownlee said that was a “huge mistake on my part”.

“It wasn’t actually intended; I was being slightly flippant – it shouldn’t have happened.”

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