Times graph on Boris Johnson’s leadership mixes up poll results

27 June 2022
What was claimed

60% of Conservative voters would like someone other than Boris Johnson to be Prime Minister in a year’s time.

Our verdict

Incorrect. 60% of all voters gave this answer, in a YouGov survey published by the Times. Only 36% of Conservative voters wanted someone else to be Prime Minister in a year.

A chart published by the Times about opinions on Boris Johnson’s leadership, shared more than 10,000 times on Twitter, is not correct.

The chart claims to show the results of a poll which asked people who voted for the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election: “Given the choice, would you prefer that Boris Johnson was still Prime Minister in a year’s time, or would you prefer someone else?” 

The longest bar in the chart is labelled with a number saying that “25%” of respondents wanted Mr Johnson to remain as Prime Minister. However the second, shorter, line of the bar chart is labelled with “60%”, to indicate the share of those surveyed “would prefer someone else to be PM”. These numbers and their bars are therefore not in proportion.

This version of the chart seems to have appeared in the newspaper’s iPad edition. However, the print edition and the article on the Times’ website include charts with different figures. 

The bar charts in these versions look almost exactly the same, except the largest bar—which relates to the answer “Boris Johnson to remain prime minister”— is labelled with “51%”, while the second bar—the percentage of respondents who said they would prefer a different Prime Minister—is labelled with “36%”. These numbers and bars appear to be in proportion.

Full Fact contacted The Times about the discrepancy, but had not received a response at the time of publication. 

However the paper’s science editor Tom Whipple described the original chart as a “mistake”, explaining that it had the right-sized bars but the wrong numbers.

The numbers instead referred to the proportions giving these answers when the question was put to all voters—not just Conservative voters. The numbers also appeared in the text of the article, correctly explained. 

Image courtesy of Ben Shread/Cabinet Office

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