PM tries to calm party activists

David Cameron has tried to smooth relations with Conservative activists, insisting he would never have anyone close to him who "sneered" at them. He emailed them after reports that a close ally dismissed some of them as "mad, swivel-eyed loons".

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David Cameron hints at going it alone

David Cameron has hinted that he could attempt to govern without the Liberal Democrats if disputes within the coalition made it impossible to continue.

The Prime Minister said that if difficulties between his Conservatives and Nick Clegg's Lib Dems meant the Government could not get things done "we'd have to face the new circumstances in whatever way we should".

David Cameron has faced sustained criticisim. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The comments came as the Tory leadership attempted to defuse rows over claims that a senior figure called grassroots activists "swivel-eyed loons", plans to allow gay marriages and the party's policy on Europe.

In an interview with Total Politics magazine, Mr Cameron said: "The coalition has its frustrations, there's no doubt about it, and we have disagreements."


Eurosceptics running a 'protection racket' in Tory party

The former EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson has accused eurosceptic politicians of "operating a sort of Sopranos-style protection racket inside the Conservative party".

He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show:

The UK isolation party and their fellow travellers in the Conservative party are ... operating a sort of Sopranos-style protection racket inside the Conservative party. They are saying ... 'give us what we're demanding or we're going to burn your home down'. In my view the Prime Minister has got to say 'enough is enough'.

– peter mandelson, former eu trade commissioner

Hunt: Lord Howe's view does not 'represent the reality'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that Lord Howe's portrayal of the Prime Minister losing control of the Conservative Party does not "represent the reality".

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt Credit: BBC / Andrew Marr Show

He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show that the Conservative party is "absolutely united" behind the desire to change Britain's relationship with the EU.

Read: Lord Howe: 'Cameron is losing control of his party'

Tory leadership has a 'disdainful' view of party activists

Tory MP Brian Binley has said he would not be surprised if a senior aide made the "swivel-eyed loons" remark because the party leadership has a "disdainful" view of volunteers.

Mr Binley, a member of the party board which is chaired by Lord Feldman, said: "I certainly will be wanting to know more about it when we have our next board meeting."

"Certainly the gap between the party leadership and the party's voluntary sector in the country is sizeable. I have made that complaint again and again," he added.

Read: Tories move to smooth 'mad swivel-eyed loons' rift


Tory MP: Cameron has a 'very united party behind him'

The Conservative MP John Redwood has said that his party is "very united" behind the Prime Minister on his strategy in Europe.

John Redwood MP Credit: BBC / Andrew Marr Show

He told the BBC 1's Andrew Marr show that he, and other eurosceptic MPs, support David Cameron's policy of trying to renegotiate Britain's position within the EU before seeking a referendum.

"We're very happy with the policy of negotiate and decide," he added.

Grant Schapps doubts 'loon' remarks were ever made

The Conservative co-chairman, Grant Schapps, has cast doubt on reports in two newspapers that a senior Tory aide described party activists as "mad, swivel-eyed loons".

Asked who was behind the alleged comments, he told Channel 4:

Unfortunately I can't reveal the answer to that, simply because I was not there and as far as we are aware it was not even said, but we just don't know.

I don't believe anyone senior would say this type of thing, it's not an attitude or a view I have ever heard expressed in No 10, in Central Office. We respect and work with people who work incredibly hard as volunteers, unpaid, for the party.

I'm trying to make clear, I don't believe it's ever been said. You can always run a story that said there were 250 people in a room and one of them said this.

The trouble is with this story we don't know who is supposed to have said it.

– Grant Shapps, Conservative Party Chairman

Howe: Anti-Europeanism has 'infected the soul' of party

Lord Howe has launched a scathing attack on the Conservative party leadership. In an opinion piece in the Observer, he writes:

Sadly, by making it clear in January that he opposes the current terms of UK membership of the EU, the prime minister has opened a Pandora's box politically and seems to be losing control of his party in the process.

The ratchet-effect of Euroscepticism has now gone so far that the Conservative leadership is in effect running scared of its own backbenchers, let alone Ukip, having allowed deep anti-Europeanism to infect the very soul of the party.

The risk now is that, if it loses the next general election – a far from negligible possibility – the Conservative party will move to a position of simply opposing Britain's continued membership, with or without a referendum.

– lord howe, former chancellor
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