Conservative MP David Davis has allegedly dismissed Prime Minister David Cameron's plans for what he calls the "Big Society" as "Blairite dressing" designed to hide a cut back in the size of the state.

Mr Davis came second in the 2005 leadership contest which saw Mr Cameron become leader of the Conservative Party. He briefly served as Shadow Home Secretary but later resigned in order to fight a by-election and to campaign on the subject of civil liberties.

He is widely considered to be one of the standard bearers for the traditional right of the party as opposed to the more liberal "Notting Hill set" of Mr Cameron and many of his closest colleagues.

According to the FT Mr Davis made a number of comments about the coalition and its policies to businessmen at a private meal at a restaurant.

He allegedly told them that Conservative Party donor Lord Ashcroft had called the new government "Brokeback Coalition", in a reference to the film "Brokeback Mountain" about a pair of homosexual cowboys.

He also is reported to have said that Mr Cameron's talk of a "Big Society" was simply cover to hide a process of shrinking the state. "The corollary of the big society is the smaller state. If you talk about the small state, people think you're Attila the Hun," he reportedly said.

"If you talk about the big society, people think you're Mother Teresa."

Mr Davis is said to have then complained that there were not many ministerial jobs available in the coalition "unless you're female" due to the low number of Liberal Democrat women MPs and added that due to the electoral weakness of the Liberal Democrats the Tories could offer not to run in 20-25 seats held by more right-wing Lib Dems at the next election, which would be an "offer you can't refuse".

When contacted by the FT Mr Davis said that his comments had been misheard.