David Cameron admits 'tough week' in end-of-term address to Tory MPs


David Cameron admitted it had been a "tough week" as he addressed Tory MPs following the Budget U-turns and Iain Duncan Smith's resignation.

In his end-of-term address to the party's MPs in Westminster he said he could "do with more time to think" as he tried to cope with the fast-paced 24-hour news cycle.

The issue of Europe - which has bitterly divided the Tory party - barely came up during the meeting, although the Prime Minister told his MPs to remind constituents that the referendum was only happening because of the Conservatives.

According to sources at the behind-closed-doors gathering ahead of Parliament's Easter recess, Mr Cameron said: "It's been a tough week but let's not lose sight of what we are here to do."

Mr Cameron's comment that he "could do with more time to think" was "in relation to the ultra-fast news cycle", one Tory MP said.

Asked what issues were raised, the source said: "It wasn't introspective, it was very much the forward agenda."

Key Eurosceptics including former cabinet minister Owen Paterson and Sir Bill Cash were not at the meeting and the PM was not asked questions about the EU, sources said.

"It comes up less often than you guys think," an MP said. "Other topic areas are available."

The atmosphere inside the meeting was "so different" from the average meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee, partly due to the number of MPs elected in 2010 and 2015, another source said.

The newer MPs may be split on the EU "but they are not idiots - they just think to themselves the Tory party in the 1990s, all the way down to about 2006-7 was divided, it was the nasty party, it talked about issues that were important to a minority within the Conservative Party ... and they are determined not to do it".