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Barnaby Joyce will officially resign as leader of the federal Nationals on Monday.
He will continue as the Member for New England and sit on the backbench.
Already a possible successor – Lyne MP David Gillespie – has indicated has appeared.
“Our leader is under enormous pressure, there is a lot of issues he has to work through and if he were to step down, people would ask me if I would put my hand up and yes I would.”
Sources close to Mr Joyce and within the NSW Nationals on Friday morning indicated the unprecedented pressure of recent weeks, triggered by revelations of his affair with staffer Vikki Campion, when he was Agriculture and Water Resources Minister had taken its toll.
“It’s been a massacre by media,” one source said.
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Mr Joyce faced renewed pressure yesterday when Victorian Nationals MP Andrew Broad publicly stated his leader needed to step down and move to the backbench, and that he’d be moving a motion challenging the leadership, next Monday in Canberra.
Calls to Mr Joyce’s office have not been returned while others members of the federal party have also been contacted for comment but have not responded.
A claim which Mr Joyce has denied was also raised yesterday over an allegation of sexual harassment involving a West Australian woman which was one of the reasons behinds the WA Nationals indicating they did not support him as leader, earlier this week.
‘All bets are off’
NSW MP Andrew Gee has refused to support embattled deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, admitting he “won’t be able to back him” in any Nationals leadership challenge.
in a statement issued on Friday morning, the former member for Orange said “all bets are off” in regards to whether he will support Mr Joyce or any perspective challengers to his leadership.
“Until I have clarification regarding some of the issues about Barnaby, I won’t be able to back him but I’m also not in a position to back any challenger,” his statement read.