NICOLA Sturgeon yearned to bring in a travel ban with England and would have liked to have built a "Trump" style wall with the country, according to Matt Hancock.

The former UK health secretary has made the highly controversial claims in his book which outlines the government's handling of the pandemic and its relationship with the devolved nations.

In his book Pandemic Diaries: The inside story of Britain’s battle against Covid, published today, he repeatedly attacks the First Minister and says he was pleased when his colleague Michael Gove was given the job of liaising with her by Boris Johnson.

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In his entry for May 4 2020 he describes a pilot Test and Trace app on the Isle of Wight which he says got "a sniffy response" from the devolved administrations "who seem to think they can come up with something better".

He adds: "As part of her relentless campaign to differentiate herself, Nicola Sturgeon is now pursuing a zero-Covid strategy, loftily declaring that Scotland is ‘in a strong position to eliminate the Covid-19 virus’.

"It’s against all clinical advice, which is clear that zero Covid is impossible to achieve: Sturgeon will only be delaying the inevitable.

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"Tonight she announced a ‘summer push to elimination’, a policy which has about as much hope of working as Chairman Mao’s attempt to eliminate starlings by getting the Chinese population to bang pots and pans.

"Much as I’m sure Nicola would love to build a Trump-style wall between her fiefdom and the rest of Great Britain, we’re all in this together – and I’m certainly not turning us into a hermit kingdom."

On December 8, 2020 he describes how Mr Gove has been assigned by Mr Johnson to liaise with the First Minister.

"We now have a triple challenge: stopping the spread, rolling out the vaccine and expanding testing," he writes.

"Boris is worried about keeping the four nations aligned in the run-up to Christmas and has tasked Michael Gove with dealing with Sturgeon. Sooner him than me. I’ve decided the rules around Christmas are too tricky to handle, so I’m leaving it to Michael to negotiate."

After England went into the highest level of restrictions as Covid infections spiked, he writes on December 19 2020: "In response to our Tier 4 announcement, Sturgeon announced a travel ban with the rest of the UK. I’m sure she’s been yearning to do that all her life."

At one point in early 2021, he reveals that the UK ministers believed Ms Sturgeon was close to being toppled by the Holyrood inquiry into how the Scottish Government handled the complaints made against former First Minister Alex Samond.

"Downing Street wants us to write to the Scottish government offering to help with their vaccine rollout," he writes in his entry dated February 2, 2021, while the parliamentary probe was ongoing.

"Damon says No. 10 is keen ‘to subtly highlight’ how slow they’ve been. Allan
has told No. 10 to tread carefully. Say what you like about Sturgeon, but she’s not stupid.

"If we’re too clunky, it will rebound on us.Sturgeon is on the rack over her handling of sexual harassment allegations against Alex Salmond and could be forced out within twenty-four hours.

"I’m supposed to be heading upto Scotland later this week to look round their vaccination and testing centres – all part of low-key efforts to shore up the union.

"Now I’m having my doubts about the trip. ‘Are we SURE I should be going? On the grounds of “don’t interrupt your enemy when they’re making a mistake”?’ I asked Allan anxiously.

"‘I think it’s fine on the basis that we don’t get sucked into it all. So it looks like while the SNP is imploding there’s still one government that’s cracking on delivering for the people of Scotland,’ Allan replied.

"Apparently the Scottish Tories still want me to go up. Good. Let’s
see how things look tomorrow. I’m heading up to Glasgow by sleeper tonight."

Mr Hancock has recently come under fire for appearing on on the ITV programme I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here.

The Conservative whip was removed from the MP when he appeared on the show.

As health secretary he presided over the response in England to the Covid pandemic.

He resigned from his role in June 2021 after breaking the Covid guidelines he helped draw up after photographs of him kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo during an extramarital affair.

The MP stepped down as health secretary a day after the images emerged of him embracing Ms Coladangelo in what appeared to be CCTV footage from inside the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

After his breach of his own rules was captured on camera came to light, Hancock announced in a video shared on Twitter that he would step down, saying: “Those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign.”

Extracts of his book have been serialised in the Daily Mail and include his claim that the First Minister's decision on masks being introduced in secondary schools forced the UK Government to reverse its policy on not requiring pupils to use them. 

Addressing his earlier claims, a SNP spokesman said: “Matt Hancock had little credibility even before he lost the last shreds of it in the jungle. These claims are more about selling books than revealing anything meaningful.”

In October 2020 support for Scottish independence rose to 58 per cent as the First Minister was regarded by voters as handling the pandemic better than Johnson and his government.

A spokesman for the First Minister dismissed Mr Hancock's claims.He said: “These so-called diaries bear little, if any, relation to reality when it comes to the First Minister’s role. For example, and as a point of fact, there were no Cobra meetings involving the FM in July 2020 as is suggested.”