David Cameron has issued an appeal to warring Tories and Liberal Democrats to unite behind the coalition not descend into "division and navel-gazing".
Following last week's Conservative revolt over Nick Clegg's plans for House of Lords reform, the Prime Minister frankly acknowledged there were "profound areas of disagreement" between the two parties.
But in a letter to The Sunday Times, he said it was essential that these differences did not stop them working together in government in the national interest.
"These differences matter and at the next election they will help define us. But we're not in an election, now. We're not even close," he said.
"People see riots and financial instability across Europe on the television news. They will tolerate tough choices if they see that you stand up for the right things together.
"But they will not tolerate division and navel-gazing. They know that the problems are big and they do not want to see politicians fall out in the process of dealing with them.
"That is why we must rise to the challenge, recognise the extraordinary and challenging nature of the times we live in - and serve the national interest by delivering a strong, decisive and united government."
Mr Cameron did offer an olive branch to Conservatives who feel that he has given too much ground to the Lib Dems - spelling out some of the areas where they will campaign on different policies at the next election.
"On Europe, for instance, we British need a fresh settlement - and a fresh mandate. Work on that can begin now but it is an issue to deal with in the next parliament, under a majority Conservative government," he said.
"I take a profoundly different view from most Liberal Democrats on the European Convention on Human Rights, too. I want to do whatever it takes to keep our country safe, restoring the ability to deport dangerous criminals and terrorists even if it means radical action in this area.
"And as I set out in a speech on welfare the other day, the next Conservative government must do more to end the benefits culture."