Boris Johnson ‘significantly less popular’ than Theresa May when she became UK prime minister

Ross McGuinness
New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Boris Johnson arrives at the Conservative party headquarters in central London on July 23, 2019. - Boris Johnson won the race to become Britain's next prime minister on Tuesday, heading straight into a confrontation over Brexit with Brussels and parliament, as well as a tense diplomatic standoff with Iran. (Photo by LEON NEAL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson waves after being named Conservative Party leader (Picture: AFP/Getty)

New UK prime minister Boris Johnson is “significantly less popular” than Theresa May was when she took over the top job, a poll has revealed.

Mr Johnson was named Tory leader on Tuesday, securing 66% of Conservative Party’s members’ votes to defeat challenger Jeremy Hunt.

He will officially become prime minister on Wednesday after Theresa May tenders her resignation to the Queen and he follows her to Buckingham Palace to ask to form his own government.

But according to a poll by YouGov, Mr Johnson is already on the back foot with the UK public, almost two-thirds of whom have a negative view of him.

According to a YouGov poll of 1,655 adults, Mr Johnson has a net favourability score of -27 - with 31% having a favourable view of him but 58% perceiving him in a negative light.

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This compares to Mrs May’s score of +12 when she became prime minister in 2016 in the wake of the Brexit referendum and the resignation of David Cameron.

When she took over, Mrs May was viewed favourably by 48% and unfavourably by 36%.

However, by the time she left office, 62% of the public had a negative view of Mrs May.

The views of Mr Johnson differ depending on his previous roles - only one in four people thought he did a good job as foreign secretary, compared to 47% who believed he was a good mayor of London.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Newly elected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the Conservative Leadership announcement at the QEII Centre on July 23, 2019 in London, England. After a month of hustings, campaigning and televised debates the members of the UK's Conservative and Unionist Party have voted for Boris Johnson to be their new leader and the country's next Prime Minister, replacing Theresa May. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson isn't as popular as his predecessor when she became prime minister (Picture: Getty)

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However, almost half (46%) think Mr Johnson will worsen the UK’s image abroad, compared to 16% who think he will improve it.

Only one in five expect him to be a good or great prime minister, while 50% think he will be a poor or terrible one.

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When asked what house Mr Johnson would be in if he was at Hogwarts, 42% said he belongs in Slytherin.

Only 19% believe Mr Johnson will be able to negotiate a new Withdrawal Agreement with the EU that Parliament can approve.

Chris Curtis, political research manager at YouGov, said: “If Boris can prove the public wrong by taking Britain out of the EU by the end of October in a way that is considered successful, he will likely bring those Brexit Party voters back into the Conservative fold and stand a good chance of victory going into a subsequent election.

“But if he fails he could alienate the hard Brexiteers who are currently his core base, and these bad numbers could get even worse.

Either way, he will live and die based on how well he handles Brexit over the coming months.”

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