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Boris Johnson tops Tory members, but poll suggests public feel differently

A YouGov poll finds 46% also think he will damage the UK’s reputation abroad.

Boris Johnson enters Downing Street more unpopular than Theresa May did (Joe Giddens/PA)
Boris Johnson enters Downing Street more unpopular than Theresa May did (Joe Giddens/PA)

Boris Johnson may have succeeded in winning over the Tory party to become leader, but a poll suggests nearly half of voters expect him to be a poor or terrible prime minister.

He is also far less popular than outgoing PM Theresa May when she entered No 10, and 46% think he will damage the UK’s reputation abroad, according to the YouGov poll.

Mr Johnson is to take to office on Wednesday after beating Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative leadership contest with 66.4% of the vote of party members.

But polling suggests he will have a more difficult time winning over the public-at-large in a general election.

The research said he has a net favourability score of -27, compared to +12 for Mrs May when she took the helm in 2016.

When she called an election the following year, she lost the Conservatives’ majority.

In the poll of 1,655 adults over the weekend, 50% said Mr Johnson would be a “poor” or “terrible” PM compared to 20% who agreed he would be “good” or “great”.

It also shed light on what the public thinks the former foreign secretary will do for the UK’s reputation abroad.

Some 46% said he would worsen Britain’s image, while 16% said he will improve it.

Mr Johnson was the resounding winner of the contest, which saw Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt take 33.6% of the vote.

In a victory speech, Mr Johnson said he would “unite” the country but made an apparent acknowledgement of his divisive style.

“I know that there will be people around the place who will question the wisdom of your decision,” he said.

“And there may even be some people here who still wonder quite what they have done.

“I would just point out to you of course nobody, no one party, no one person has a monopoly of wisdom. But if you look at the history of the last 200 years of this party’s existence you will see that it is we Conservatives who have had the best insights, I think, into human nature.”

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