Winston: Announcement on next government coming tomorrow

Updated: NZ First leader Winston Peters says he will be in a position tomorrow afternoon to make an announcement on the result of negotiations following the 2017 general election.

Mr Peters says he has spoken to the leaders of the National Party and the Labour Party today and, among other matters, advised an announcement is coming tomorrow.

The comments come after two days of meetings with the NZ First board and the party’s caucus, which finished last night.

Speaking to media last night, Mr Peters said the board was almost unanimously agreed on policy but had not come to an agreement yet on which party it would be backing for government.

“The board has come to an almost total consensus on the issue of policy – and that’s what really matters to us.”

Later that night, spotted conducting separate one-on-one meetings with Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister Bill English.

Mr English confirmed he had met with Mr Peters, but refused to comment on the contents of that meeting.

Earlier: A former NZ First MP has revealed the most likely options for party leader Winston Peters’ successor once he decides to hang up his hat.

Richard Prosser, who was demoted from third on the list to 15, says there are probably three people in line for that job: Ron Mark, Tracey Martin and Shane Jones.

Mr Prosser, who was at Parliament to do some final IT admin, says there is probably “some weight to the suggestion that Winston would prefer Shane [Jones] to take over.”

But he says Mr Jones is not well known by the wider party member and will have to prove himself to them as “by far and away” the bulk of the party want Mr Mark to take over.

Mr Jones, a former Labour MP and minister, is one of NZ First’s newest MPs – coming onto the party list in the eighth spot after failing to win Whangarei.

Mr Mark – a former army officer – is the party’s deputy leader and No 2 on the list. He first became an NZ First MP in 1996 and was re-elected in 2014.

Ms Martin, who was elected to Parliament in 2011, is well respected in Parliament for her experience in education and is the party education spokeswoman.

On Ms Martin, Mr Prosser would only say that she is “a very ambitious person.”

In the past, none of the three has made comments about succeeding Mr Peter as the party’s leader.

Mr Peters has also been relatively silent on the issue.

He has been leader since he founded the party in 1993 and has held various ministerial positions since then.

However, at 72 years old, many have speculated Mr Peters is coming to the end of his political career.

Asked when Mr Peters is likely to stand aside, Mr Prosser says he will look at making this his last term in Parliament – “provided there is a strong succession and the party looks viable without him.”

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