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 British 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 plans to allow gay marriages, the party's policy on Europe and claims that a senior figure called grassroots activists "swivel-eyed loons".
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 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 – paying down the deficit, turning round the economy, and all the rest of it.
"What matters to me, though, 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."
The interview was published as the Tory leadership rallied around party co-chairman Lord Feldman in the row over reports that an ally of Mr Cameron said local activists were "swivel-eyed loons" who forced MPs to adopt hardline stances.
Lord Feldman, who was not named in newspaper reports, was forced to strenuously deny making the comments after internet speculation linked him to the alleged remarks.
Party treasurer Lord Fink said Lord Feldman had "always spoken about the activists who run our party with enormous respect and admiration, both in large meetings and private".
But Tory MP Brian Binley said if the remarks were made by someone in Mr Cameron's inner circle it would not be a surprise, because the leadership has a "disdainful" view of the party's volunteers.
Lord Feldman, a friend of Mr Cameron's from their days at Oxford, said it was "completely untrue" that he had made the comments. (© Daily Telegraph, London)