David Cameron clashed with Douglas Carswell in the Commons two years ago. Photo: YouTube screengrab
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Watch: David Cameron and Douglas Carswell clash in the Commons

Watch the PM clash back in 2012 with the backbench MP who has today defected from his party to Ukip.

Today, the backbencher and MP for Clacton Douglas Carswell announced he would be defecting from the Conservative party to join Ukip. Aside from being a vocal critic of much of what the Tory leadership has and hasn't done in power, he is also known to be forthright in his disagreements with David Cameron.

Never was this tense relationship plainer than in 2012 when the two clashed in the Commons during a particularly fiery PMQs session.

Carswell asked the PM about one of his pet subjects, the role of the civil service. He asked Cameron why he had insisted what Carswell tags the "Whitehall machine, the Sir Humphrey factor" wasn't frustrating reform, only to say a few weeks later that Yes Minister was true to life.

The PM replied, rather pointedly: "I think the Hon Gentleman does need a bit of a sense of humour."

Carswell later told the Huffington Post that it wasn't necessary for his then leader to react so "glibly and slightly aggressively".

"I can do humour, but right now they are not laughing about the budget in Clacton, they're not laughing about the lack of economic growth in Clacton, there not laughing about 20% VAT hike on static caravans in Clacton... I didn't feel it was an appropriate day to do gags in the chamber."

Watch the put-down here:

Video: BBC

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Labour slumps to fourth place in North Hykeham and Sleaford by-election

Conservative candidate Caroline Johnson eased to victory as Labour tumbled from second to fourth place.

Caroline Johnson was elected as the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, while Labour slumped from second to fourth behind Ukip and the Liberal Democrats, who finished second and third respectively. The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Stephen Philips.

The seat, which has been safely Conservative since its creation, backed Brexit by a 20-point margin on 23 June. The Tory victory, with 53.5 per cent of the vote, is one of the party’s all-time best by-election performances while in government. 

Johnson won with 17,570 votes. In second was Ukip's Victoria Ayling, with 4,426 votes. Ross Pepper recieved 3,606 votes, while Labour's Jim Clarke got 3,363 votes.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.