David Cameron has been criticised for backing Nicolas Sarkozy's candidacy in the forthcoming French presidential elections - not once but twice.

After backing Sarkozy during a joint press conference in Paris he reiterated his support in an interview in Le Figaro.

"We'll be following your fortunes in the weeks to come on the campaign trail and, as I said, I wish you luck," he told Sarkozy at the conference.

"I admire Nicolas Sarkozy's courage and his leadership and I think he has achieved great things for his country. Clearly the future is an issue for the French people, but I make those points, I believe those points."

In a subsequent interview with Le Figaro he said: "[Sarkozy] has done extraordinarily important things for France. It will be for the French people to decide. I do not have to interfere in this choice. Nicolas Sarkozy has my support. I say it clearly."

Critics accused Cameron of interfering in France's internal affairs.

Conservative MP Douglas Carswell told the Daily Mail: "Imagine the president of France lending his support to either David Cameron or Ed Miliband - there would be an outcry across Britain."

Bruno Le Roux, spokesman for French socialist party candidate Francois Hollande, said Sarkozy's need for foreign leaders' support was indicative of a "malaise which testifies to the rupture between the president and his people".