UK voters are going to become very familiar with Sir Michael Fallon over the course of the 2017 general election campaign. That is because the Defence Secretary, 64, is at the heart of the Tory plan to make Labour and Jeremy Corbyn look like the unsafe option at the ballot box on 8 June.

Fallon played a similar role in the 2015 general election campaign, which saw him brand then Labour leader Ed Miliband as a "backstabber" who was willing to "barter away" the UK's nuclear deterrent, Trident, for a coalition government with the SNP.

With the Conservatives warning of a new "coalition of chaos" between Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats, Fallon has revived his role. Corbyn, a long-time support of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), played into the Tory narrative over the weekend.

The left-wing leader, asked he would ever use the Trident system, told BBC One's Andrew Marr show: "We want a secure and peaceful world. We achieve that by promoting peace, but also by promoting security."

A Labour spokesperson later clarified that the party still supports the renewal of the nuclear deterrent

"The decision to renew Trident has been taken and Labour supports that," the spokesperson said. But doubt had been cast by Corbyn, with Fallon continuously highlighting the issue during his media rounds on Monday morning. Corbyn is "staggeringly irresponsible", he told Sky News.

The Defence Secretary even told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he could not rule out a preemptive nuclear strike in extreme circumstances.

As for where the issue of defence and terrorism ranks in voters' minds, the latest Ipsos MORI concerns index, published in March, ranked it 10th. However, the issue came seventh – ahead of poverty, social care and education – the month before.

The Conservatives are not immune on the issue of defence either, with the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) think-tank pointing out in 2015 that the UK's annual 2% of GDP spending target was met by adding new items, such as pensions, to its return. But Labour have failed to exploit the Tories' weaknesses on defence.

Sir Michael Fallon tells Nato members to 'step up'
Sir Michael Fallon