Gavin Pearce has denied demanding that maverick MP Bridget Archer be dumped by the Liberal Party.
The federal Braddon MP was responding to questions late on Friday afternoon after reports emerged that he had issued an ultimatum that put his own political future on the line.
"The timing of Braddon preselection is a matter for the state director to determine," Mr Pearce said in an emailed response.
"In relation to your question around an ultimatum, I have never issued such an ultimatum."
Mr Pearce was not asked about the timing of preselection, but whether he would stand.
Earlier, Liberal insiders said he had made it known that he will not seek preselection unless he is assured Ms Archer will not be endorsed, backing a report published by The Sydney Morning Herald.
A frequently outspoken critic of her own party's policies, including on the recent Voice referendum, Ms Archer is the Member for Bass, a neighbouring electorate to Braddon.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald report, a source close to Mr Pearce said he was tired of campaigning to retain his seat while fielding questions from local media about Ms Archer's statements that contradicted those by him and opposition leader Peter Dutton.
An unnamed Liberal MP reportedly stressed that Mr Pearce would not back down and there was a chance party officials would side with him, but this would "probably result in [Ms Archer] going to the crossbench and winning her seat" as an independent, causing the Coalition to lose a seat.
"He has told people he won't be the candidate for Braddon until he knows Bridget won't be the candidate for Bass," the MP was quoted as saying.
Ms Archer was reported to have said that she remains "a Liberal Party member and will be hopefully seeking re-election", noting her preselection was "for our grassroots members to decide".
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