7 in 10 Britons dissatisfied with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister

Public satisfaction with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister continues to fall, according to our latest Political Monitor.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Dylan Spielman Public Affairs
Get in touch
  • Dissatisfaction levels with PM match those of Theresa May in her final months in office
  • 6 in 10 think the Conservatives should change their leader before the next General Election – up from 42% last summer

Ipsos’s latest Political Monitor, taken 19th to 25th January, shows public satisfaction with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister continuing to fall, with satisfaction levels now similar to some of his predecessors at their lowest point.

Leadership satisfaction – Johnson and past PMs

  • 24% are satisfied with the job Boris Johnson is doing as Prime Minister (down 4 points from December), 70% are dissatisfied (up 5 points). His net satisfaction rating now stands at -46. This is Mr Johnson’s lowest net rating yet. This is only marginally better than John Majors net rating at this point in his tenure as PM (-50, May 1993).
    • These results broadly match Mrs May’s lowest in her final months, with 69% dissatisfied, and 25% satisfied in June 2019 (net -44).
    • It is slightly worse than David Cameron’s worst score of 66% dissatisfied and 28% satisfied in July 2016 (net -34).
    • However, it is not as bad as John Major’s lowpoint of 76% dissatisfied and 17% satisfied in August 1994 (net -59), or Margaret Thatcher’s of 76% dissatisfied and 20% in March 1990 (net -56).
    • Boris Johnson’s current net rating is similar to Tony Blair’s lowest of -43 in January 2007 (68% dissatisfied and 25% dissatisfied) and -44 in July 2006 (23% satisfied and 67% dissatisfied).
    • Meanwhile, Gordon Brown typically registered similar scores to Boris Johnson on several occasions in 2008 and 2009.  MrBrown’s worst net score of -51 was in July 2008 (21% satisfied, 72% dissatisfied).

Leadership satisfaction – Keir Starmer and Ed Davey

  • Keir Starmer has seen his satisfaction rating rise five points to 33%, with 48% dissatisfied, down a point, giving him a net satisfaction rating of -15. The last Leader of the Opposition to win power was David Cameron, who recorded a -22 rating at a similar point in his tenure as opposition leader (September 2007), although this then significantly improved to -2 the following month and from then on.
    • Keir Starmer is gaining support among Labour supporters, with satisfaction up 11 points to 55%, and 34% dissatisfied, down six points, a net satisfaction rating of +21 (his best net rating with Labour supporters since last spring).
    • By way of comparison, the Prime Minister has seen his satisfaction rating among Conservative voters drop ten points in a month to 57%, with those dissatisfied up six points to 34% a net score of +23 (his worst yet as PM with Conservative voters).
  • Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey saw his satisfaction rating improve eight points to 27%, with dissatisfied down five points to 28%. But his challenge is still one of recognition, with 45% saying “don’t know”.
  • Two thirds of people (67%) are dissatisfied with the Government and 25% satisfied, little changed from December.

Change of leadership?

  • 61% of Britons think the Conservatives should change their leader before the next General Election (up from 42% last July), including 35% per cent of Conservative supporters.
  • 37% say Labour should get a new leader before the next General Election (was 34% last July), including 28% of Labour voters.  

Voting intention

Labour is on 40%, up one point from December, the Conservatives 31%, down three, the Liberal Democrats up two to 13%, and Greens also up two to 9%.

Gideon Skinner, Head of Politics at Ipsos, says of the findings:

The damage to Boris Johnson in public opinion continues as seven in ten Britons tell us they are unhappy with the job he is doing as Prime Minister – another month-on-month fall.
The Conservatives are falling behind Labour in the polls, while Keir Starmer’s ratings are creeping up, even if many are still to be convinced about him.
Six in ten now think the Conservatives should change their leader before the next election (including around half of Conservative 2019 voters), a big increase from happier times for them last summer and in line with views of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in 2019.
Governing parties have come back from similar poll deficits in the past, but in recent history this combination of factors is a new – and very uncomfortable – position for Boris Johnson and his Conservatives to find themselves in.

Technical Note

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,059 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone:19th  to 25th January 2022. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.  

On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points. This is especially important to keep in mind when calculating party lead figures.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Dylan Spielman Public Affairs

More insights about Public Sector

Society