DAY ONE of the Rishi rehabilitation project was in Darlington where there are the beginnings of a levelling-up scheme that has the potential to make a genuine difference to town, region and country.

The beleaguered Chancellor, whose credentials as the heir apparent to Boris Johnson have taken a battering over his handling of the cost-of-living crisis and over his wife’s tax affairs, said the creation of the economic campus was “one of the things that I am most proud that I've done in this job”. Not only will it bring good jobs to the town centre, but it will provide young local people with a new career path and it can begin to change the London-centric way in which the country is run – for the benefit of the whole country.

After a weekend of headlines, other politicians might have shied away from public and media engagements, but Mr Sunak deserves credit for ploughing on.

His message was essentially that he believed his course on the cost-of-living crisis was the correct one but there was definitely more than a hint that he will be doing more in the autumn should fuel costs continue to soar. This is welcome.

It is wrong to think he has done nothing. In fact, he has spent £9bn on the £150 council tax rebate for 28m households and on the curious repayable £200 loan – but he has not gained any political benefit from that.

He is respected, and probably well liked, in his constituency, but to really rehabilitate himself, he will need to find a way of really connecting with the immense, and frightening, problems that people a be facing. He’s helping the Treasury escape the London bubble, but can he escape the bubble of his own background?