Patrick Mercer has quit as an MP. The Sun has the story, with the former Conservative saying:

‘It is clear to me that the constituency of Newark needs to be represented properly. I will not argue will the findings of the committee and I can only humbly apologise.

“My military background has taught me that you must never let down the people who depend on you, and those people are my constituents of Newark. If that becomes the case, you must go without any argument.’

Now the question is when the Newark by-election will take place. It is a nightmare for the Conservative party, which would perhaps have rather he’d stuck around festering on the benches as an independent than trigger a by-election that involves a battle with Ukip.

The nightmare gets a little bit worse given Commons rules were recently changed so that the period of time between a writ being moved in a by-election and the by-election taking place must be at least 21 working days. This means that it cannot take place on 22 May as the party might have hoped. Nigel Farage had already ruled out standing if the vote was on 22 May – but now his chance remains open.

Tags: Newark by-election, Patrick Mercer, UK politics, UKIP