A "vicious streak" of online abuse is putting women off going into politics, Theresa May has warned.

The Prime Minister told The House magazine that female MPs across the political parties had "really suffered online" and that "nastiness" aimed at women was now a "real problem".

She was speaking to her colleague James Cleverley, the Tory Deputy Chairman, ahead of the party's conference in Birmingham, which starts on Sunday.

Asked whether women were being put off politics by abusive online comments, the PM replied: "It doesn't in terms of me personally, it doesn't distract me.

"But I am conscious that there are some of my female colleagues, across the House - it isn't a party thing - have really suffered online and continue to suffer online. Obviously, we've had some instances investigated by the police and so forth.

"But it is a real problem that this nastiness, this sort of vicious streak, has entered into our politics. That will put women off.”

She went on: "It's so important that we ensure we have different views in politics. People have come from different points of the political spectrum but we should be able to debate those, argue them out and do it in a reasonable way and not resort to this sort of attack that takes place."

Also in the interview, Mrs May pushed back when asked about the role her husband Philip played in her political decision-making.

"I don't think he is part of my decision-making process; he's my husband," she declared.

The PM then said: "I just wondered when you asked me about Philip's role, whether if I was a male prime minister, you would have asked the same question about their wife?”

She added: "I'm just raising the question as to whether actually there are those out there who think that because it's a female Prime Minister, therefore there must be a man somewhere."

Mr Cleverly also asked his party leader - who raised eyebrows when she was filmed taking part in a dance on her recent visit to Africa - why she had not chosen to show a "cheeky, humorous, slightly irreverent side" of herself in public.

The PM replied: "I was tempted to say that there are some people who would say that maybe the dancing in Africa was a side that they haven't seen before; but there have been differences of opinion as to whether that was a good thing to do."

Mrs May then added: "I'm not a stand-up comedian; I am Prime Minister."