Most German cars are sold in Britain.
That’s wrong. About one in seven cars made in Germany are sold in Britain. It is true that more German cars are exported to the UK than anywhere else.
The UK has a trade deficit with the EU.
That’s true overall. We have a trade surplus in services, and a much larger trade deficit in goods.
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“I actually believe that we hold all the cards… there is a deficit, a trade deficit from the EU to us. Germany, the breadbasket of the EU, sells most of its cars in Britain. They desperately need to trade with us.”
Louise Mensch, 8 December 2016
It’s not true that Germany sells most of its cars in Britain, although it does export more cars to the UK than anywhere else.
But it is true that the rest of the EU sells more to us than we sell to them overall.
Last year, the Office for National Statistics says that we bought about £90 billion more in goods than we sold to other EU countries. At the same time, we ran a £20 billion trade surplus in services, selling more than we bought. So our overall trade deficit in good and services was about £70 billion overall.
On its own, the overall balance of trade doesn’t tell us very much about the balance of power in Brexit negotiations. For example, it doesn’t tell us about which industries our negotiators think are strategically important, or domestic priorities, or why.
There are lots of different ways to look at how much UK-EU trade is worth to each party, and what that means for who is most keen to agree on a trade deal. We’ve written about this in detail here.
The European Commission gives different figures for the UK’s trade with the EU, because it collects the data in a different way. It still says that the UK has a trade deficit in goods, a trade surplus in services and a trade deficit overall.
This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.
With Brexit fast approaching, reliable information is crucial.
If you’re here, you probably care about honesty. You’d like to see our politicians get their facts straight, back up what they say with evidence, and correct their mistakes. You know that reliable information matters.
There isn’t long to go until our scheduled departure from the EU and the House of Commons is divided. We need someone exactly like you to help us call out those who mislead the public—whatever their office, party, or stance on Brexit.
Will you take a stand for honesty in politics?