Sajid Javid, the newly-minted health secretary, has called 19 July “the start of an exciting new journey for our country”, as he pledged to end lockdown once and for all next month.

In his first address to the Commons – 48 hours after replacing Matt Hancock following a tumultuous few days at Westminster – the former Chancellor struck a more pragmatic tone than his predecessor.

“In truth, no date we choose comes with zero risk for Covid,” he told MPs. “We cannot simply eliminate it – we have to learn to live with it.

“My task is to help return the economic and cultural life that makes this country so great while of course protecting life and our NHS”.