Key confirms electorate deals with ACT, UnitedFuture — Conservatives out in the cold

Key at his post cabinet press conference this afternoon (TV3.co.nz livestream)

At his post cabinet press conference, Prime Minister John Key confirmed National would encourage its supporters to vote for ACT candidate David Seymour in Epsom and UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne in Ohariu.

As he flagged this morning, there will be no deal for Conservative leader Colin Craig, who is standing for East Coast Bays.

The PM said the only way Mr Craig could realistically win the seat would be if the incumbent Murray McCully was withdrawn from the ballot. 

That would be "a bridge too far."

The PM said there was "no chance" of him changing his mind, even if the Conservatives (currently polling between 1% and 2%) start polling over 4%.

Mr Key also reiterated that he would be prepared to work with the Conservative Party or NZ First if they are in the next Parliament.

Last week, NBR political commentator Matthew Hooton predicted National would spurn an electorate deal with the Conservatives. He cited talk of inhouse National polling that indicated a coalition with Colin Craig's party would shave 2% to 3% from National's list vote as social liberals defected. 

The Conservatives also complicated the pictured on July 19 as Mr Craig underlined that binding referenda would be a bottom line in coalition negotiations — a policy that would have caused difficulty for National with the Citizens Initiated Referendum late last year that saw a majority oppose the partial asset sale programme.

This afternoon, Mr Hooton saw Mr Key leaving himself some wiggle room, with August 26 looming as a key deadline in the PM's investment banker thought process.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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