John Howard has called for calm amid what he’s described as an “outbreak of madness” in the Coalition.

He was commenting after NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro called for the resignation of Prime Minister John Howard as a “Christmas gift” to Australians.

Mr Howard has told the Australian newspaper that he continues to support Mr Turnbull “very strongly”.

“There seems to be an outbreak of madness at present,” Mr Howard said.

“People should take a cold bath and calm down. ”

Barnaby Joyce on Friday labelled Mr Barilaro’s comments “insulting” and “unhelpful”.

Mr Joyce, who remains the federal Nationals leader despite facing a by-election on Saturday to regain his seat of New England.

“I was very disappointed with the comments by the (NSW) deputy premier this morning,” Mr Joyce told reporters in Tamworth on Friday afternoon, adding the comments were “very unhelpful” and didn’t profit anybody.

“I find them insulting … I can’t fathom how people could think a comment like that is of anything but harm.

“You’re criticising the captain of your own team … why would you do that?”

Mr Joyce insisted the Liberal Party was a “business partner” of the Nationals. Mr Turnbull was his personal “mate”.

“If what you want to do is tear down the coalition then what you’re actually doing is asking that (Opposition Leader) Bill Shorten become prime minister of Australia,” Mr Joyce concluded.


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