Theresa May defends temporary exclusion orders and her record on security

Theresa May has said measures to prevent Britons from returning to the UK after taking part in terrorism abroad are an important police power - but acknowledged they have only been used once.

Speaking to Julie Etchingham on ITV's Tonight programme, the prime minister defended temporary exclusion orders, saying they were just one tool available to the security services to fight terror.

"The point about the temporary exclusion order is that it is an additional power for our police to use when they believe it is operationally right to do so," she said.

The orders were developed by Mrs May while she was home secretary, but since their introduction in 2015 they have been used just once.

In the wake of the attacks in Manchester and London, Mrs May has faced pressure over her record as home secretary.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for her to resign over cuts in police numbers that as home secretary she oversaw.

But speaking on the Tonight programme, in an interview recorded prior to the London Bridge attack in which six people were killed and 48 injured, Mrs May said that counter-terrorism budgets had been protected.

She also stressed the importance of the government's Prevent strategy, used to identify people at risk of being radicalised.

"That's about a whole network of people who are out there working with communities, getting information from communities, but also working to prevent radicalisation of people within communities," she said.

"Very often, it is that work that obviously is crucial in ensuring across the board, whatever the radicalisation, whatever the extremism, we can prevent people from going down a road where they want to do us harm."

Mrs May was asked if the 'nasty party' label was coming back Credit: ITV Tonight

In the build up to the election, Mrs May has not only faced questions on security, but on her pledge to look out for the Britons she identified as "just about managing".

As the Tories gear up to cut free school lunches and end the triple lock on pensions, some say another phrase coined by Mrs May might be more appropriate - has the "nasty party" returned?

"Not at all. What I’m doing in the manifesto and in the policies we're putting forward is addressing some of the key challenges that face this country over the next five years; beyond that time," she responded.

"Now, key among that is getting the Brexit negotiations right, but we also need to ensure we're addressing the big challenges we face."

Mrs May has spoken before about the support she receives from her husband, Philip Credit: ITV Tonight

Also in her wide-ranging interview with Tonight, Mrs May spoke about her own life, describing herself as "bookish as a child", and speaking candidly about the difficulty of coping with losing her parents, both of whom died shortly after she was married.

The prime minister has several time spoken about the support she received from her husband, Philip, at that difficult time.

And asked what the "naughtiest" thing was she had ever done, Mrs May recalled a time when she was a child, "when me and my friend, sort of, used to run through the fields of wheat".

"The farmers weren’t too pleased about that," she said.

  • Tonight: The Leader Interviews - Theresa May is on ITV at 7.30pm on Tuesday 6 June