THERESA May launched an attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s credibility as the Labour leader struggled with the cost of a key manifesto commitment.

She sought to get back on the front foot after the U-turn on social care and the Manchester bombing pushed her campaign off course, and claimed Corbyn was “simply not ready to govern and not prepared to lead”.

The Labour leader, meanwhile, apologised after a difficult broadcast interview saw him repeatedly fail to provide the cost of Labour’s childcare policy.

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In the interview with BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, he paused several times when repeatedly asked to give a cost for the pledge to roll out free care to all two to four-year-olds, before asking: “Can we come back to that in a moment?”

The Prime Minister had Corbyn in her sights as she launched a personal attack on his record and ability during a speech in Wolverhampton.

She said the Labour leader was not prepared for the crunch talks with Brussels that will start within days of the General Election and would find himself “alone and naked” in the Brexit negotiations.

Looking back at Corbyn’s performance when questioned by Jeremy Paxman and a studio audience in Monday night’s televised showdown, May said: “He is not prepared to use the nuclear deterrent. He is not prepared to take action against terrorists. He is not prepared to give the police the powers they need to keep us safe.

“He is not prepared to take a single difficult decision for the good of our economy. He is not prepared to answer questions about his long track record of supporting people who want to harm and even attack our country.

“And with Brexit negotiations due to begin only 11 days after polling day, he is not prepared for those negotiations.”

Setting out the challenge facing whoever is in No 10, she said: “The Europeans are ready to go and are determined to fight for a deal that works for them.

“This is not time for a weak government and a weak leader to be making it up as they go along, particularly not when that leader has shown poor judgment and weak leadership throughout the process so far.”

Corbyn was trying to focus on policy issues with a commitment to the extension of free childcare, but his performance was firmly in the spotlight after the Woman’s Hour interview.

Despite having a copy of the manifesto and apparently logging on to his iPad for help as he was pressed to give the cost for the policy, it was left to presenter Emma Barnett to provide Labour’s estimate of the £4.8 billion annually by 2022.

Answering questions on the interview at a campaign event in Watford, Corbyn said: “I didn’t have the exact figure in front of me, so I was unable to answer that question, for which obviously I apologise.

“But I don’t apologise for what’s in the manifesto and I will explain exactly what the cost is.

“It’s £4.8bn it will cost by the end of the Parliament and it means that one million children will get childcare, free childcare 30 hours per week between the years of two and four.”

Corbyn dismissed suggestions made by some of his supporters online that he had been treated unfairly in the radio interview.

“There isn’t such a thing as being unfair to politicians – if you put yourself up for elected office in public life you are subject to permanent scrutiny,” he said.

“I never get upset by these things, never be so high and mighty that you can’t listen to everybody else and make sure that you understand the motives of the majority of our people and the kind of society that we want to live in.”

Corbyn defended journalists after Barnett said she was subjected to abuse online, some of which appeared to be anti-Semitic, with several Twitter users calling her a “Zionist”.

The Labour leader said: “It is totally and absolutely completely unacceptable for anyone to throw abuse at anyone else.”