The Conservative leadership has moved to head off a damaging rift with grassroots activists after an ally of David Cameron reportedly described them as "mad, swivel-eyed loons".
The co-chairman of the Conservative Party was forced to deny being responsible for the comments and condemned false rumours which have circulated on the internet. Lord Feldman says he is taking legal advice after being wrongly linked to the remarks.
Mr Cameron gave his backing to Lord Feldman, with Downing Street saying no one at No 10 had made the remarks. A Tory spokesman said the Prime Minister had the "highest regard for the Conservative Party's activists" and praised their "incredibly hard work".
The Telegraph reported the comments were made about the recent revolt in the parliamentary party over no mention of a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union in the Queen's Speech.
The senior figure is reported to have said:
The comments were made at a private dinner by a figure with "strong social connections" to the Prime Minister, The Times and Daily Telegraph reported.
Following the allegations, Lord Feldman said:
Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps described Lord Feldman as being "absolutely straight and true to his word":
Relations between the party leadership and grassroots traditionalists have been strained by Mr Cameron's support for gay marriage and over the thorny issue of Europe.
Many Tories are concerned by the rise of Nigel Farage's Ukip, which made spectacular gains at this month's local elections campaigning on issues which many Conservative traditionalists identify with. Mr Farag wrote on Twitter: