Key, Brash 'discussed the leadership'
John Key appears to have confirmed there was a deal for him to take over from Don Brash as prime minister if National won the 2005 election.
In his new book Brash writes that he made an agreement to serve less than one term if he became prime minister, before handing over to Key.
"We discussed the leadership on several occasions, most memorably when we shared a two-bedroom motel unit in Blenheim in December 2004," Brash wrote.
"We were both of the view that he was my logical successor. The plan was for me to lead the National Party to victory in the 2005 election, for me to be prime minister and him to be minister of finance, and then for me to hand over the reins to him during the 2005-2008 parliamentary term."
Speaking in Blenheim today, where he was accompanying the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as part of their official visit, Key indicated he remembered the meeting.
"We certainly did stay in a motel, there was a two-room motel, we stayed in that motel room," Key told reporters, making no attempt to deny the agreement existed.
"There were lots of discussions over that time. I don't think there was any sort of formal agreement, and how things might have played out, who knows? In the end we didn't win that election and the rest is history."
Brash also wrote that he was now "persona non grata" in the National Party and that Key did not return his calls.
Key denied he would not take Brash's phone calls.
"Yeah, I do. That part of his recollection is sort of wrong, I think. I speak to him reasonably regularly, when he's at events, and I'd be more than happy to take his phone calls. I'd be more than happy to ring him."