Wales politics

Brexit: More people recognise fictitious MEP than real ones

Wales' MEPs
Image caption Wales' four MEPs - Derek Vaughan, Nathan Gill, Jill Evans and Kay Swinburne - at the time of their election in 2014

A fictitious MEP was recognised by a greater percentage of people than three real ones, a survey has suggested.

The made-up Elwyn Davies was second only to UKIP MEP Nathan Gill in name recognition, ahead of Jill Evans, Derek Vaughan and Kay Swinburne.

The figures emerged in the 2016 Welsh Election Study.

Cardiff University's Professor Roger Scully said voters were "unlikely to notice" the loss of MEPs after Brexit.

But Mr Vaughan, a Wales MEP since 2009, said it is "difficult" for MEPs to get recognition.

Prof Roger Scully, principal investigator for the Cardiff University-led 2016 Welsh Election Study, said it was probably unsurprising that Mr Gill came top given his higher profile role in the assembly election campaign.

"But none of the other Welsh MEPs were selected by a greater proportion of the study respondents than that legendary figure in Welsh politics 'Elwyn Davies' - whose contributions to our national political life I feel I need not elaborate upon," he said.

Image caption Professor Roger Scully said most MEPs are hard-working

Prof Scully, who spent the early part of his career studying in the European Parliament, said most MEPs are "very hard-working individuals".

But he added: "We will, of course, very likely be losing our MEPs when the UK leaves the EU.

"But on these results, it seems fair to say that most of the Welsh public are unlikely to notice."

Those surveyed were asked: "Wales is represented by four members in the European Parliament. Which, if any, of the following people are among Wales' four representatives in the European Parliament?"

They were given only 30 seconds to answer, to prevent them from searching on the internet, and were given the choices of four entirely made-up names and two real MEPs.

Image caption Derek Vaughan said it is "impossible" to try to cover all of Wales as an MEP

The findings suggest that Wales's four MEPs - UKIP's Mr Gill, Plaid Cymru's Ms Evans, Labour's Mr Vaughan and the Conservatives's Ms Swinburne - were picked out by members of the public who saw the names with a breakdown of 16%, 11%, 9% and 6% respectively.

But the made-up Elwyn Davies was chosen by 12% of those who saw "his" name, beating all the MEPs apart from Mr Gill.

Out of the remaining made-up names, David Sherwood was picked by 5%, Lynn Goodwin 5% and Jenny Green 5%.

Labour MEP Mr Vaughan, in response to the Welsh Election Study press release, said: "I have offices in South Wales and North Wales and do regular visits across the constituency but it is impossible to try to cover all of Wales in a way which ensures people recognise you."

The data was collected by YouGov via the internet in March 2016 and 3,272 people responded.

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