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Which news stories captured the public’s attention in June?

Every week, Populus conducts a poll to find out which news story, political or otherwise, the public have paid most attention to during the course of that week. Here we share with Red Box the results for June.

At the best of times it is rare for the British public to pay much attention to what is happening in Westminster. With a World Cup ramping up in intensity, new research from Populus shows that few have their eyes on parliament. The World Cup was the most noticed news story last week and interest in it is growing as the tournament reaches the latter stages.

Where it has been overshadowed by politics, this has mostly been because of Donald Trump rather than our politicians at home. His summit with Kim Jong-un was the most noticed news story for 34 per cent of people in the middle of the month (making it the most noticed story in June), and the forcible separation of families migrating to America came top the following week.

Only two domestic political stories broke through in June. Most notably the Grenfell Tower inquiry, which reached a peak when 19 per cent of the public identified it as the story they had paid most attention to.

The other was Brexit, which continues to attract a small portion of attention and one that is highly concentrated among specific demographics. Men are about two to three times more likely to recall Brexit as the biggest story of any given week. If you are 65 or older you are similarly about two or three times more likely to recall it as the top story than if you are aged 18-24.

The Heathrow runway parliamentary vote was recalled as the top story of last week by only 2 per cent of the public. And the widely reported cabinet divisions seem to have gone almost unnoticed. These are big stories only for the Westminster Bubble.
For the public at large — and for younger people especially — the World Cup is far more interesting than politics.

Populus interviewed a nationally representative sample of at least 2,000 British adults aged 18 and over each week, and asked what news story they had noticed the most. The question was open-ended and participants could name any story.

Populus interviewed a nationally representative sample of at least 2,000 British adults aged 18 and over each week, and asked what news story they had noticed the most. The question was open-ended and participants could name any story.


Will Clothier

Will is a Senior Research Executive at Populus where he has delivered stakeholder research projects for household names across a range of sectors including sport, telecoms, culture, food, and leisure – advising clients on the views of politicians, journalists, and industry leaders. Recent stakeholder clients include the Premier League and BT.

He researches public opinion quantitatively and qualitatively for political organisations, government departments, and businesses. Recently he has analysed public attitudes towards ‘populist’ economic policies post-Brexit, and the political attitudes of voters in different parts of the country. He works within Populus’s Reputation and Strategy division, having joined the company as a Research Executive. He graduated from Durham University with a first class degree in English Literature and holds the Market Research Society Advanced Certificate with a double merit.

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