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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".
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."
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:
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he does not believe that someone close to the Prime Minister made the "swivel-eyed loons" comment.
Speakign on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, he said that party activists are "in tune" with the views of British voters and that their input was "incredibly important to the DNA of the policies that we are putting into place".
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".
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.
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.
Conservative MP John Redwood has said that if the "swivel-eyed loons" comments are found to be true then the person responsible "should be reprimanded".
He told BBC1's Andrew Marr show that he is "very glad" the comments have been "strenuously denied".
The Conservative MP John Redwood has said that his party is "very united" behind the Prime Minister on his strategy in Europe.
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.
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:
Lord Howe has launched a scathing attack on the Conservative party leadership. In an opinion piece in the Observer, he writes:
Latest ITV News reports
David Cameron sent an email to members of his Conservative Party urging unity.
The Tory grandee Lord Howe has accused the Prime Minister of 'losing control' of his party as divisions over Europe come to the fore.