People up and down the country are talking about our new prime minister, according to a weekly polling by Populus.

The Conservative leadership contest has been the most noticed news story for seven consecutive weeks, soaking up public attention even in those stages of the campaign when the candidates eschewed the national media to focus on hustings in front of Tory members.

Boris Johnson’s victory, the most noticed story for 81% of the population last week, is the second most visible news item this year, eclipsed only by Brexit. It far exceeds the 56% of people who noticed Theresa May’s coronation three years ago.

Even when the news was dominated by Donald Trump’s attacks on American Congresswomen of colour, or on ex-ambassador Kim Darroch, the president did not receive public attention proportionate to the scale of press coverage devoted to him. One in six Brits at most were focused on stories related to Trump in July (17%), but far more had the battle for Number 10 on their mind (33% and 27%), even when not much was happening.

Another major story trailed in the wake of the leadership contest. The Labour Party antisemitism row continues to elude mainstream public attention: just 1% said it was their most noticed story at any point this month, despite the ongoing fallout from the BBC’s Panorma documentary on the subject. Indeed, over the past couple of years, Labour antisemitism has never reached more than 5% in this polling series.

Anything relating to Brexit, on the other hand, is easily recalled. With a new Government in place, Brexit is back in sight, but it was never really out of mind.

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


Will Clothier

Will is a Consultant 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.