Culture secretary defends police cuts following London Bridge terror attack

Culture secretary Karen Bradley has defended cuts to policing during a debate over Islamic extremism in the wake of the London Bridge attack.

Ms Bradley repeatedly avoided answering whether numbers of frontline police officers had been slashed since 2010.

She told Good Morning Britain that counter-terrorism budgets had increased under Theresa May both as home secretary and Prime Minister - resulting in more specialist officers on the streets.

But she refused to say whether the government would stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, accused of funding extremism, if the Conservatives are re-elected on Thursday.

And Ms Bradley accused Piers Morgan of treating her interview like a pub quiz when he asked if she knew how many mosques there were in the UK.

Speaking on Monday, two days on from the deadly in the capital which killed seven and injured at least 48, Ms Bradley admitted the country faced an "unprecedented" threat from radical Islam.

Former Daily Mirror editor Mr Morgan partly attributed this to Mrs May having overseen a series of "draconian" and "savage" cuts to policing - including the slashing of 20,000 frontline officers since 2010.

But Ms Bradley refused six times to admit whether numbers had in fact decreased.

"We have seen an increase in the budget for counter-terrorism policing and we have made sure there are more specialist police officers on the streets," she said.

"And that's why eight minutes from the first call from the public on Saturday night coming through the armed officers were deployed and the three terrorists had been killed."

She added that while police had managed to save money since 2010, crime had also fallen by a third.

"It's not just about the numbers. It's about the powers. Theresa May has never shied away from giving powers to the police," Ms Bradley added.

Police forces have been forced to save money since 2010. Credit: PA

The Staffordshire Moorlands candidate also criticised Mr Morgan for presiding over a "pub quiz" interview after he her questioned about mosque numbers in the UK.

She was also confronted about whether Britain would continue to sell armsto countries like Saudi Arabia when they were allegedly promoting extreme versions of Islam - such as Wahhabism - in UK mosques.

"I think any mosque promoting radical extremism, any one mosque is one too many and we need to work with communities to make sure we drum out that kind of extremist ideology," Ms Bradley said.

She continued: "We need to confront ideology wherever it is and we need to make sure we work with communities here at home and elsewhere.

"We also have to remember that a close working relationship and sharing intelligence with our partners overseas saves far more lives than anything else.

"That's why it's important that we do work closely with allies."

Extremism is believed to be funded in some British mosques. Credit: PA

Her answers came as Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called for a report into alleged Saudi funding of British extremist groups.

Mr Farron said that the Prime Minister must be ready to have "difficult and embarrassing conversations" with the Gulf kingdom - despite the UK having approved an arms export licences worth £3.5 billion.

Writing in The Guardian, he said: "When we lent our support to the government for extending air strikes against so-called Islamic State in Syria, one of the Liberal Democrats' key demands was a report into foreign funding of extremism here in Britain.

"The then Prime Minister, David Cameron agreed to that demand. Theresa May now has a choice. Does she publish that report, or keep it hidden?

"Theresa May talks of the need to have some difficult and sometimes embarrassing conversations.

"That should include exposing and rooting out the source funding of terror, even if it means difficult and embarrassing conversations with those like Saudi Arabia that the Government claims are our allies."