IT is no surprise that Sir Keir Starmer has been cleared by Durham police over breaching lockdown regulations.

After all, the one thing most people know about Sir Keir is that he is desperately sensible to the point of being a bit boring. It is hard to imagine him holding a knees-up in direct contravention of any rules – well, for a man whose most daring act is to take his tie off, it is hard to imagine him holding a knees-up at any time.

However, it is possible to imagine that for him, a takeaway curry – nothing hotter than a korma – and a single bottle of beer is a racy little break after a hard day’s campaigning in Hartlepool before he settles down in his hotel room in Durham to do a little more work before bed.

Labour, though, has not helped itself in this episode. In fact, it fell into the Boris Johnson trap – when questioned, it didn’t bother to check the facts and denied deputy leader Angela Rayner had been present only to be forced to backtrack when the truth emerged.

Sir Keir has used the incident to contrast himself with Boris Johnson. He said he would resign his position on a point of principle if the police found he had broken the regulations while Mr Johnson desperately clung to his position even though he had become the first Prime Minister to be fined for breaking his own rules.

But now that Mr Johnson has fallen, the tactic of presenting Sir Keir as the sober alternative to the extrovert law-bending of the Prime Minister has also run its course.

Being reassuringly boring will not be enough if Sir Keir finds himself up against a new Tory leader like, say, the current Defence Secretary and leadership favourite Ben Wallace who is a steady-as-she-goes sort of a choice.

Durham police’s decision removes any doubts that Sir Keir will lead Labour into the next election. He’ll be up against a new Tory leader who may well still be enjoying a honeymoon period. He will have to do far more than presenting himself as the sensibly managerial alternative because the indefensible days of utter chaos under Mr Johnson have now ended.