Updated February 13, 2018 16:16:58
A sizeable portion of the National Party wants Barnaby Joyce to resign as leader, and are turning their attention to who should replace him.
A growing number of Nationals MPs and senators say his reputation has been so badly damaged by his affair with former media advisor Vikki Campion, he cannot regain credibility.
Throughout his entire career, Mr Joyce won votes because of his colourful and charismatic approach.
But now it is widely felt within the National Party that Mr Joyce's greatest political asset — his authenticity and believability — is in tatters.
He said today he would remain as Nationals leader and he is widely regarded as a "survivor", but pressure on his political future is mounting by the minute.
Nationals say they would prefer he step aside to ensure a smooth transition. They do not like the idea of a leadership challenge because they do not want blood on their hands.
But they are tired of fielding phone calls from disgruntled voters who are deeply disappointed and furious with the Deputy Prime Minister's behaviour.
As yet, no-one in the party has approached Mr Joyce to tell him he should resign.
It is still "up in the air", one Nationals MP said. Another added it would "probably" be dealt with this week.
As tensions over the scandal boil furiously within Coalition ranks, Nationals are suggesting Michael McCormack would be a suitable successor and party leader.
Mr McCormack is the member for the New South Wales seat of Riverina and is Minister for Veterans Affairs.
He is regarded as a steady set of hands who would be a capable, reliable and sensible leader.
He twice lost out on winning the deputy leadership, once to former senator Fiona Nash and late last year, to Victorian senator Bridget McKenzie.
There is a feeling within the party that if Mr Joyce resigned or was rolled in a leadership challenge, Bridget McKenzie would remain as deputy leader.
That would make it difficult for Victorian MP Darren Chester, who was controversially sacked from cabinet by Mr Joyce last year, to be elected to a leadership position.
The Nationals would not want two Victorians leading their party.
Liberal MPs have told the ABC they were furious about the way the Barnaby Joyce saga has damaged the Coalition.
They predict the Nationals party room will remove him, but add that the situation was still fluid, and the decision was not up to them.
But the other looming problem for the Coalition is that Mr Joyce is meant to be acting Prime Minister next week.
There is no appetite for that within the Coalition, given it would fuel an already raging fire.
That is why the senior Liberal arm of the Coalition may end up flexing its muscle to pressure Mr Joyce to resign.
First posted February 13, 2018 16:13:43