IT was stunningly cynical in its timing, just a day after the release of the Gray report. It included a couple of the noisiest political U-turns ever performed. It could have been the rabbit that Rishi Sunak pulled out of his hat at the end of his lacklustre Budget a few weeks back.

Having said all that, yesterday’s announcement by the Chancellor is extremely welcome.

It ticked many of the right boxes, and real efforts have been made to target the help at the most vulnerable people – the biggest winners seem to be pensioners with a disability, and few can quibble at that.

The Chancellor has an impossible balance to strike. He has to avoid stoking inflation and he has to be fair to big business, but he also needs to help ordinary people who face terrifying times. He also knows that whatever he does will never be enough. Energy bills are to rise by £1,500 in a year, and then there’s 10 per cent inflation plus soaring petrol bills – he can never cover all of that but, at last, he has been generous enough to begin to ease some of the burden.

His critics say his windfall tax is unConservative but that misses the point. Especially in red wall areas like ours, if the Johnson Conservative Party stands for anything it is pragmatism. With people hurting and even starving, the Chancellor had to find a prompt and pragmatic way of helping.

He cannot rest on his laurels. People, and businesses, will need more help in the months ahead.

Most households are going to receive a welcome £400 grant, so perhaps there has been something positive to emerge from the fallout of the shameful partygate affair.