Telling a Downing Street briefing, he warned: “The evidence on this virus is it spreads easily, it’s more transmissible.

“We absolutely need to make sure we have the right level of restrictions in place.

“I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country and I think it’s likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced. I think it is the case that this will spread more.”