THERESA May has mocked Nicola Sturgeon for suggesting Jeremy Corbyn was not up to the job of being Prime Minister yet made clear that she would still cut a deal with him to put the Labour leader in Downing Street..

Returning to the campaign trail following the suspension of electioneering in the wake of the Manchester terror attack, the Tory leader rallied local activists in the Conservative marginal of Twickenham, which former Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable is trying to win back.

Mrs May said: "The questions for this campaign haven't changed since I called it six weeks ago. Who do you trust to stand up for Britain, to negotiate for Brexit and get the best possible deal for Britain in Europe?"


She insisted there were just 10 days in which to stop Mr Corbyn heading a coalition of chaos, in which the SNP leader would be "pulling the strings".

This is the same campaign warning David Cameron made two years ago when Tory election posters showed the then Nationalist leader Alex Salmond as puppet-master to Ed Miliband. Conservative HQ believes the tactic helped the Tories over the line in 2015, confounding the pollsters to win a majority.

The Tory leader suggested Ms Sturgeon's price for propping up a minority Labour government would be to force Mr Corbyn to agree to facilitating a second Scottish independence referendum.

Asked about the First Minister's television appearance at the weekend when Ms Sturgeon again insisted she had a mandate to demand a second poll on Scotland's future and when she confirmed the SNP would be willing to form a progressive alliance to "lock out" the Tories from power, the PM stressed this was a general election about who was "going to be the government for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".


To laughter from her audience, she said: "I believe Ms Sturgeon said yesterday that she did not think Jeremy Corbyn was capable of being prime minister but, at the same time, also said she would prop him up and put him into government."

She went on: "The Europeans know that if they have a weak government in a hung parliament that government won't be able to stand up for Britain. That is what this election is about. It is about leadership, it is about stability, it is about doing the right thing for Britain. It is only the Conservative Party that can provide that."

On Sunday, Ms Sturgeon said if there were a hung parliament, then "of course we would look to be part of a progressive alliance that pursued progressive policies".

But she also urged people to be realistic, saying, despite a narrowing of the opinion polls, the country was facing a Tory government perhaps with a larger majority and in those circumstances it was imperative for Scots to vote SNP to ensure Scotland's interests were protected.

Mrs May's latest stump speech took place in the small assembly hall of a Catholic primary school surrounded by placard-carrying supporters. She again pitched the contest in presidential terms, saying the "simple choice" facing voters was whether she or Mr Corbyn would be in No 10 and within 11 days of the vote who, between them, would be in Brussels leading the Brexit talks for Britain.


She also mocked John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, describing him as a "Marxist, who had to google the deficit," and Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary, who "couldn't add up".

Her appearance on the stump came after a series of recent opinion polls showed Labour narrowing the gap with some putting the Conservative lead down to single figures.

When one journalist commented about how the election had been rather drab and she had come across as a "glum-bucket," the PM said it had been absolutely right to suspend campaigning after the Manchester bombing and added: "I'm optimistic about what we can achieve for this country for the future but this is a crucial election and there is a very clear choice for people when they come to that poll on June 8."

Tonight at 8pm on Sky News, Mrs May and Mr Corbyn face arguably their sternest test yet of the campaign when they each face separately a live studio audience and are then grilled individually by veteran interviewer Jeremy Paxman