A minister appointed to act as David Cameron's link man to the parliamentary party in a surprise mini-reshuffle insisted the move shows the Prime Minister "cares" about the views of his backbenchers.
John Hayes, a robust rightwinger, was announced as the PM's senior parliamentary adviser on Thursday as Cameron moved to build bridges with restive Tories.
The former energy minister insisted Cameron was an "exceptional leader" and "more than capable of leading across the party".
But, pressed on why so many backbenchers were unhappy with the Prime Minister's leadership, he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "I don't think it has gone dangerously wrong but I think what the Prime Minister has recognised in my appointment is he wants to build the team that allows for that communication to happen.
"Clearly that is about listening, shaping policy, as I say, through the insight and understanding of backbench colleagues.
"The very fact that he has appointed me shows the Prime Minister knows about this and cares about this."
He added: "I have known the Prime Minister since he entered the House. In those days I had the job of what's
called assistant chief whip.
"So I have known him since he was a backbencher, we have always had very positive good relations. We have always got on well and I think he knows I tell it as it is.
"Of course it is true that there has to be honesty in all those kinds of relationships but most people recognise that we are tackling some really tough challenges."Suggest a correction