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July 2018 in the News and on Social Media

Movement on Withdrawal Bill

While Brexit is typically present, if not particularly prominent, in terms of the public’s top ten most noticed news stories each week, there was a clear peak this month around the vote on the UK’s future customs arrangements. Thirty-one per cent of the public cite Brexit as their most noticed story of the week ending 20th July (the key vote happened on Tuesday 17th). Populus’s Will Clothier explores this further for the Times’ Red Box, discussing the impact of the vote on public opinion: cabinet resignations following the Chequers deal fuelled a small but clear drop in Tory support. The impact on the polls suggests that there is a tightrope to be walked in finding an acceptable version of Brexit. Populus research finds Brexit remains prominent in terms of the public’s fears for the future: members of the public are more likely to believe that Brexit, rather than new technologies, will lead to job losses over the next 10-15 years.

Southgate, you’re the one – at least as far as the FA’s concerned

With the FA looking set to offer Gareth Southgate a contract extension keeping him in place until the 2022 World Cup, we look back at the sheer extent to which the World Cup in general, and England’s performance in particular captured the public’s attention in the first half of the month. The World Cup was the most noticed story (26%) in the first week of July, while football matches were the top trending stories on Twitter every day they took place – and when they didn’t, Twitter got creative, with #GarethSouthgateWould, which generated a wide range of responses from the sublime to the ridiculous. The rejuvenation of the public’s love for football comes as Populus published the second edition of the British Icon Index, which finds that the Premier League creates a more positive image of the UK than any of the other icons in our study. Indeed, 68% of those polled say the Premier League makes them think better of the UK.

But the football team that really mattered this month wasn’t in Russia

While interest in the World Cup increased to 29% in the second week of July as England took on Croatia, the week’s most noticed story was that of the Wild Boars – the youth football team who were trapped in the Tham Luang cave system in Thailand. The last of the boys was rescued on the 10th July; that week, 36% of our respondents recalled this story. However, this story was an ongoing concern of the public’s, having been cited by 23% of the public the previous week, when the news came through of the death of a former Navy Seal involved in the operation.

Wildfires and weather dominate the end of the month

Britain was in the grip of a heatwave in the final week of July, with temperatures reaching the 30s. However the week ending 27th July was dominated by the tragic news of wildfires in Greece taking over 90 lives: 26% of our respondents saw this as the most important story of the week.

Some hashtags weren’t about football

As usual, Twitter users served up varied fare in terms of their interests this month. On 26th July, the Sun reported on Twitter hysterics as a woman named Alexandra trended, having been seen eating a pot noodle at a party on Love Island. Earlier in the week, an important anniversary failed to go unnoticed, as we celebrated #8YearsOfOneDirection. Less trivially, the #TrumpUKvisit, despite being overshadowed by the stories discussed above, was nevertheless the top trend on Thursday 12th.

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June on Social Media

Populus provides a recap of the past month in news and social media. The World Cup featured heavily in the latter half of the month, and looks set to continue to do so as England progress to the later stages of the tournament. International news also features prominently, with Donald Trump's immigration policies and his meeting with Kim Jong-un both being recalled by a significant proportion of the public.


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