Winston Peters – the leader of the New Zealand First party – has called for next month’s election to be postponed, warning to press ahead with it would be for Jacinda Ardern’s own gain.
Peters has reportedly hired key allies of Nigel Farage from Leave.EU to help with his communications strategy during the country’s election.
He is currently a coalition partner in Ardern’s government and serves as the deputy mayor, propping up the Labour Party along with the Greens.
But Peters has distanced himself from the Labour Party and now wants to increase his support to prevent Ardern from re-entering government.
Banks and his associate Andy Wigmore have said that they are offering strategic advice to Peters, something the politician denied.
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The Brexiteer said: ‘There’s a contract in place where we’re hired to do the social media and give a bit of advice and it’s just a plain vanilla commercial deal.
‘We’re not donating money, we’re just offering advice. I haven’t donated money to any New Zealand entity and nor would I’.
Portraying her as ‘Jacinderella and the Ugly Sisters’, he told the publication: ‘Jacinda is very popular but her party’s very unpopular.’
But now Peters has called for a delay to the election as polling suggests Ardern is on course for a landslide victory, claiming fears over the coronavirus should lead to its postponement.
The ability for parties to campaign for a September 19 election had been ‘fatally compromised,’ he wrote.
The legitimacy of the election result could be undermined if Ardern chose not to delay the election,’creating an awful precedent which could be abused by the prime minister’s successors’, he said.
‘People will be driven to the conclusion, in the absence of any empirical evidence to the contrary, that the election date choice is being forced from a minority position to achieve a certain outcome,’ Peters added.
A spokesperson for Ardern said: ‘The prime minister has proactively sought the views of the leaders of every political party represented in parliament this afternoon about the election date. A range of views have been expressed that the prime minister has taken on board,’ a spokesperson said.
‘The prime minister will provide an update tomorrow morning once she has also reviewed the most up to date health information on the situation in Auckland.’