UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has claimed that Scotland and England have followed the same strategy for coming out of lockdown – suggesting that people’s movements north of the border have been more relaxed.

Mr Hancock disputed the “narrative” that Scotland has taken a more cautious approach than other parts of the UK in easing the lockdown and said that differences between the restrictions being lifted “makes very little difference”.

Data suggests that the infection rate, the number of people each case is being passed onto, could now be as high as 1.1 in London, having risen from the previous estimate of between 0.6 and 0.9 while in the south west of England the R number has risen from between 0.6 and 0.9 to 0.7 and 1.

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As of July 1, the Scottish Government believes the R number was “estimated to be between 0.6 and 0.8, as it has been for four weeks”.

Scots have been able to travel more than five miles for leisure purposes since Friday, apart from a cluster of communities in Dumfries in Galloway - while the restriction was lifted in England weeks ago.

Speaking on Sky's Ridge On Sunday, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford stressed that the virus rate is less in Scotland than in England.

He said: “When we look at the evidence and you see the prevalence rate of the virus, it’s a fifth of the rate in Scotland that it is in England.

“I think that caution that we have had in Scotland has been rewarded by that improved performance.”

The UK Health Secretary was pressed on the issue on the Andrew Marr Show and was quizzed over Scotland’s stricter lockdown approach compared to England.

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Mr Hancock said: “The truth about what’s happened in Scotland is that they have done almost exactly the same things as we’ve done in England at almost exactly the same time.

“We also track movements and the amount of movement that there is in Scotland, for example on the roads, did go down further, but then has come up and is now higher than in England.”

He added: “I just query the narrative that you and Nicola Sturgeon are setting there. Actually the whole UK went into lockdown essentially together and is coming out essentially together. The difference of a few days makes very little difference.

“I would look at the substance of what’s happening.”