Boris Johnson has dismissed the possibility of ending coronavirus restrictions early by saying it is “sensible” to stick with the planned “terminus” date of July 19, after talks with his new Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

The Prime Minister said on Monday that England was “set fair” to be free of lockdown measures and back to normality “as far as possible” by the later date he set when previously delaying his plans by four weeks due to the surging Delta variant.

Mr Javid earlier sparked opposition concerns that he was ignoring the “data, not dates” approach by saying his “absolute priority” was to end controls as quickly as possible and declaring there would be “no going back” once they were ended.

He was to update the Commons on his coronavirus plans having succeeded Matt Hancock who resigned over the weekend after being revealed to have broken Covid-19 guidance by kissing an aide in his ministerial office during the pandemic.

During a by-election campaign visit in Batley, the Prime Minister defended the delay to Mr Hancock’s exit as “the right pace to proceed in a pandemic” and said he had held a “long meeting” with Mr Javid on Sunday.

“Although there are some encouraging signs and the number of deaths remains low and the number of hospitalisations remains low – though both are going up a bit – we are seeing an increase in cases,” the Prime Minister told broadcasters.

“So we think it’s sensible to stick to our plan to have a cautious but irreversible approach, use the next three weeks or so really to complete as much as we can of that vaccine rollout – another five million jabs we can get into people’s arms by July 19.

Boris Johnson, right, talks to a member of staff during his visit to Johnstone’s Paints in Batley, West Yorkshire Boris Johnson made his comments during a by-election campaign visit to Batley, West Yorkshire (Peter Byrne/PA)

“And then with every day that goes by it’s clearer to me and all our scientific advisers that we’re very likely to be in a position on July 19 to say that really is the terminus and we can go back to life as it was before Covid as far as possible.”

Announcing the delay to the end of all legal social distancing controls earlier this month, Mr Johnson set a possible date for easing restrictions as July 5, but even then said it was far more likely to come on July 19.