Former prime minister John Howard hopes federal independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor will lose their seats at the next election.

The two MPs, who represent traditionally conservative electorates in regional NSW, sided with Labor after the 2010 election and effectively handed them power.

"I hope both Oakeshott and Windsor lose their seats, because the political predisposition of those two electorates was not to support the current government, but rather to support the opposition," Mr Howard told the Nine Network on Sunday.

"They didn't take any notice of that, and I'd like to see both of those seats come back to the National Party."

The former prime minister said Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had "enormous ability".

If anybody other than Mr Abbott had been leading the Liberal Party in the past three years, Kevin Rudd would have remained leader of the Labor Party and would have won the last election with a comfortable majority, Mr Howard said.

"That, in my opinion, is why Abbott's position is so strong."

He also dismissed suggestions that Mr Abbott could be replaced by former leader Malcolm Turnbull.

"I don't believe for a moment that the Liberal Party will be led at the next election by anybody other than Tony Abbott," he said.

But Mr Howard said there was a "real possibility" that the Labor Party would replace Julia Gillard with Mr Rudd as its leader.

"In the end, leadership is determined by the laws of arithmetic," he said.

"Even the most popular leaders can be removed if people think they're going to do better under another one."


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