Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
8 July 2022

Boris Johnson was never truly popular as prime minister

Even at the start of his premiership, Johnson was more disliked than liked by the public.

By Ben Walker

In his three years in office Boris Johnson was truly popular with the public for only a few months.

Normally, after entering Downing Street, prime ministers enjoy a honeymoon period, when voters are willing to give their leaders the benefit of the doubt. Theresa May enjoyed a long honeymoon period from taking office in July 2016 until May 2017, when she went out to meet the electorate during general election campaigning. Tony Blair had it for years and even Gordon Brown had it for a few months.

Johnson, however, never had it. He started his premiership more disliked than liked by the public to the tune of 10 percentage points and is on course to end it with a net approval rating of -26. 

For 80 per cent of his time in No 10, Johnson has faced a country in which more voters dislike than like him, a stark statistic. But while the country as a whole didn’t like him, those living in marginal seats, at the outset at least, did, and that’s what mattered most in the fraught and divisive 2019 election campaign: he might not have been winning over all the people, but at least he was winning over the right people.

[See also: Boris Johnson promised to "fuck business", and that’s exactly what he did]

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action