Keir Starmer leads Boris Johnson on three out of five key leadership traits

Our latest Political Pulse shows favourability in Johnson falls after the confidence vote

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Ben Roff Public Affairs
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  • Public think three key traits apply to more to Starmer, one to Johnson and one is a tie.
  • Favourability towards Boris Johnson falls following confidence vote.
  • More Britons are clear on what Keir Starmer stands for than a year ago – and he closes the gap on Johnson – but half remain unclear.

The latest Ipsos UK Political Pulse survey, taken 10th to 13th June 2022, takes stock of public opinion after Boris Johnson recently faced a confidence vote amongst Conservative MPs.     

Johnson vs Starmer 

When asked to rank 11 character traits in terms of which are most important in deciding what makes a good Prime Minister, the top 5 chosen related to understanding the problems facing Britain (59% said this was important), being honest (58%), good in a crisis (56%), a strong leader and a capable leader (both 53%).

What makes a good Prime Minister?

When asked whether these character traits apply to Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer, we find that the public are more likely to think three of them apply to Starmer, one of them to Johnson and the other is a tie:

  • Starmer leads Johnson +9 pts on understanding the problems facing Britain (43% say this applies to Starmer and 34% to Johnson), +23 points on being an honest person (39%-16%) and +7 on being a capable leader (36%-29%).
  • Johnson leads Starmer +8pts on being good in a crisis (34%-26%), although the public are also more likely to say this does not apply to Johnson (52%) than Starmer (35%) – though Starmer has more saying they don’t know.
  • The two leaders are tied on being seen as a strong leader (31% each). Again, Johnson has more saying this does not apply (57%) than Starmer (43%) – with Starmer registering more don’t knows once more.

Image of party leaders: Boris Johnson vs. Keir Starmer

When asked if it is ‘clear what each leader stands for’ we find Keir Starmer has improved his position relative to Boris Johnson this time last year –  but half are still unclear:

  • 45% are clear what Boris Johnson stands for (-7pts from June 2021), 47% are not clear (+7pts).
  • 41% are clear what Keir Starmer stands for (+11 pts from June 2021), 49% are unclear (-11 pts).

Is it clear what Johnson and Starmer stand for?

Favourability towards party leaders

After surviving a recent vote of confidence amongst Conservative MPs, public favourability towards Boris Johnson has fallen. 22% are favourable towards the Prime Minister (down 6 points from May) and 56% are unfavourable (+3). Meanwhile, 25% are favourable towards Labour leader Keir Starmer (-3pts from May) and 40% are unfavourable (-3). 

The full list of results for June (with changes from May in parenthesis) is found below ranked by % favourable:

  • Angela Rayner 26% favourable (-4pts from May). 36% unfavourable (+2).
  • Rishi Sunak 26% favourable (-3pts). 42% unfavourable (-1).
  • Keir Starmer. 25% favourable (-3pts). 40% unfavourable (-3).  
  • Sajid Javid. 24% favourable (-2pts). 38% unfavourable (+2).
  • Ben Wallace 23% favourable (-1pts). 24% unfavourable (+2). 
  • Boris Johnson. 22% favourable (-6pts). 56% unfavourable (+3).
  • Liz Truss. 18% favourable (-5pts). 38% unfavourable (+5). 
  • Priti Patel 17% favourable (-4pts). 51% unfavourable (-3).

Favourability towards parties  

The fall in favourability towards Johnson this month is not fully reflected in the Conservative Party’s numbers and the public are less unfavourable towards the Conservative Party (49%) than the Prime Minister (56%).

Favourability towards the main GB wide parties can be found below (with changes from May again in parenthesis):

  • Labour 29% favourable (-4pts from May). 41% unfavourable (nc).
  • Greens 27% favourable (-6pts). 32% unfavourable (+5).   
  • Conservatives 24% favourable (-3pts). 49% unfavourable (nc).
  • Lib Dems 22% favourable (-4pts). 35% unfavourable (+5).  

Right direction / wrong direction & impact of Brexit 

Elsewhere in the poll, 56% things in Britain are moving in the wrong direction (+3pts from May) and 21% say things are moving in the right direction (-3). The proportion saying wrong direction is the joint highest since the 2019 General Election.

Meanwhile, amidst ongoing rows about the Northern Ireland protocol, 28% of Britons think Brexit has had a positive impact on the country (-3 pts from May), 46% say negative (+2), 20% say it has not made a difference (+1) and 6% don’t know (nc).

Keiran Pedley, Director of Politics at Ipsos UK said of the findings:

Boris Johnson’s favourability ratings have dipped this month, suggesting that the recent confidence vote has damaged his standing with the public to at least some extent. Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer will be encouraged that he is leading the Prime Minister on several leadership traits that are most important to the public and he has closed the gap with Johnson on whether it is clear what he stands for. 

However, the fact half of the public are still not clear what Starmer stands for and his overall image ratings are only lukewarm, shows he still has work to do to set out his vision to the country.

Technical note

  • Ipsos UK interviewed a representative sample of 1,125 Britons aged 18+. Interviews were conducted online from 10th to 13th June, 2022 Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.
     

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Ben Roff Public Affairs

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