Britain would be at increased risk of terror attacks under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, the man running the Conservative general election campaign has claimed.
Sir Patrick McLoughlin said the 67-year-old was “not suitable” for the role of Prime Minister because he would be unable to make “uncomfortable” decisions that the job entailed.
The comments came before Mr Corbyn on Sunday suggested the Labour Party may no longer support the Trident nuclear deterrent, although a party spokesperson denied any change in Labour's stance.
“There are decisions which prime ministers have to take and those people in authority have to take [which] are sometimes very uncomfortable,” Sir Patrick told The Telegraph. “If they don’t take them, we’re at danger... I know that with Theresa May, she would take them. I’m not sure that Jeremy Corbyn would.”
A spokesperson for the Labour leader refuted the allegations, saying as an MP, Mr Corbyn had "consistently made the correct calls in the interests of Britain's security".
Sir Patrick's comments demonstrate a ramping-up in the Conservative Party's efforts to depict Mr Corbyn as a threat to the safety of the country.
According to polls by Opinium, ComRes and YouGov, Ms May's Conservatives hold a lead of between 19 and 25 percentage points, with the party's support ranging from 45 percent to 50 percent.
In two other polls, Ms May's Conservatives also gained ground in Scotland at the expense of the Scottish National Party.
Sir Patrick's comments touch on comments Mr Corbyn made in 2015 when he said he would never use Britain’s nuclear deterrent, even in the event of a nuclear attack.
In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday, Mr Corbyn also cast doubt on a future Labour government's support for the Trident nuclear deterrent.
Refusing to commit to keeping Trident in the party's manifesto, Mr Corbyn said: “I want us to achieve a nuclear-free world, to adhere to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and take part in negotiations surrounding that.
“The issue has to be that we want a secure and peaceful world,” he said. “You achieve that by promoting peace and also promoting security. Security comes from that process.”
The Labour leader has in the past attracted criticism for voting against military intervention in Syria, saying peace could only be achieved through diplomatic means.
Shortly after assuming control of the party, Mr Corbyn also sparked controversy when he appeared to question the UK’s “shoot-to-kill” policy in terror attacks, although broadcasting regulator BBC Trust ruled his comments were misrepresented. He later publicly backed the rule.
A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn said: "Jeremy has consistently made the correct calls in the interests of Britain's security and international peace.
"He has proved right time and time again, from Libya to his opposition to the disastrous and illegal war in Iraq, which had caused such catastrophe in the region and made us less safe at home."