Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has put security at the heart of his election campaign after he criticised police cuts under the Tories, but faced calls to defend his opposition to the shoot-to-kill tactics that enabled three terrorists to be neutralised in London.

In a speech in Carlisle on Sunday (4 June), the Labour leader accused the prime minister of trying to "protect the public on the cheap", saying that "the police and security services must get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts.

"Theresa May was warned by the Police Federation but she accused them of crying wolf," he added.

He also said that the UK's support of countries such as Saudi Arabia made Britain vulnerable to terrorism.

"Yes, we do need to have some difficult conversations, starting with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology.

"It is no good Theresa May suppressing a report into the foreign funding of extremist groups. We have to get serious about cutting off the funding to terror networks, including Isis, here and in the Middle East," Corbyn said.

The speech was a gamble by the Labour leader who may be seen as politicising the terror attack by London Bridge on Saturday that killed seven people and left 21 injured.

Corbyn on the police
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party delivers a speech in Carlisle, on Sunday 4 June in which he criticised police cuts under the Tories. Reuters

It has also raised the ire of critics who say that his reluctance to back shoot-to-kill, which killed the three suspected terrorists on Saturday, undermines any claim that he would be tough on terrorism.

After the Paris attacks in November 2015, Corbyn said he was not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy which he described as "quite dangerous and I think can often be counterproductive". However he has since said that he would back "whatever proportionate and strictly necessary force" was needed to save lives.

But Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative MP candidate, told the Telegraph that what Corbyn had said on Sunday showed that he was "out of touch" with the security situation in Britain.

"He would be paralysed by indecision wouldn't he, with his core beliefs which are completely at odds with securing the security of the UK population," he said.

Meanwhile, Tory candidate Philip Davies told the paper that the swift armed response to the attack showed the role that shoot-to-kill played in fighting terror.

"As far as most people in the country are concerned that is just plain common sense and I think that Jeremy Corbyn's no doubt sincerely held views are why he is not really the right person to be prime minister, particularly when one of the big issues facing the country is the threat from terrorism."