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”, over plans to allow gay marriages and the party's policy on Europe.
Senior Government sources have already warned that they expect to lose a vote in the House of Commons today that would amend the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill to allow heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships.
The amendment is being supported by an unlikely alliance of anti-gay marriage Tories, the Labour leadership and some Liberal Democrats.
While it would not affect the principal aim of the Bill it could delay implementation of same-sex marriages by up to two years.
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. Sometimes those disagreements mean you can't take actions in the areas you want to, but when I stand back and look at the coalition, I still think what's remarkable is how radical we have been in making really important changes in our country.
“I'm here to deliver good government for the country, and we've still got important work to do.
“What matters to me, though, is can we get things done? Can we improve the state of the country? Can we fulfil our manifesto?
“The best way to do that is to continue with the coalition, but if that wasn't the case then we'd have to face the new circumstances in whatever way we should.” But Lib Dem Cabinet minister Danny Alexander said: “Liberal Democrats will ensure that this Government will be strong and stable enough to be able to take the difficult decisions in the years to come no matter what happens in other parties.”
The interview was published as the Conservative leadership rallied around party co-chairman Lord Feldman in the row over reports that an ally of Mr Cameron said the local parties were “swivel-eyed loons” who forced MPs to adopt hardline stances.
Lord Feldman was forced to strenuously deny making the comments after internet speculation linked him to the alleged remarks.