Who is National's Todd Barclay?

Todd Barclay.
Todd Barclay.

National's fresh-faced candidate to replace Bill English says he has already quit his job as a tobacco lobbyist, having originally joined the company to get ''real world'' experience in order to help him into politics.

The former Beehive staffer is also even younger than previously claimed by the party.

Todd Barclay is poised to become the youngest National MP in decades, after being named as the candidate in the safe Clutha-Southland electorate for the September 20 election. An official National Party press release on Sunday said Barclay was 24, although yesterday he confirmed he only turns 24 in June.

Having worked for three Cabinet Ministers as a Beehive staffer, Barclay moved to Auckland in 2013, working for six months at a public relations firm before joining Philip Morris International, one of the world's largest tobacco companies.

The role has seen him lobbying politicians and media against the National-led Government's proposal to strip all advertising from tobacco products.

He is not the only recent Philip Morris employee to seek to become a National Party MP, with Chris Bishop, an adviser to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, seeking to become the party's candidate in Hutt South.

Originally from Gore, Barclay said he resigned from Philip Morris on Sunday, the day he won a contested nomination for a seat English has held since 1996 when it was created.

He admitted the role would raise questions about his ethics, but said yesterday that his own view was strongly anti-tobacco.

''I don't smoke, I don't encourage smoking,'' Barclay said from Gore yesterday.

''Obviously, fairly, there is a question around my ethics, with regards to working for a tobacco company [but]...I don't believe it does call into question my ethics, my views are strong, and they're against smoking. I don't encourage people to smoke, but it is a job.''

Barclay said he took the job to give him the experience he needed to enter politics.

''I always knew I wanted to get into politics. In order to do that I needed to get some private sector experience and work in the real world for a while,'' he said.

''It taught me some very valuable skills really, in the corporate sector and taught me about how corporates operate in New Zealand.''

No one in the National Party had told him to quit, but he was leaving immediately to allow him time to work on his campaign in the seat, which English won with a majority of more than 16,000 votes in the 2011 election.

National's Jami-Lee Ross, 28,  hold the current title of the baby of the House, entering Parliament at 25 following the 2011 Botany by-election. He was the youngest National MP since Marilyn Waring took the Raglan seat in 1975, aged 23.

Fairfax Media