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.
Claim 1 of 2
“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.
The integrity of our elections is in danger, and we need your help
You’re probably here looking for facts. Thank you for that trust. But with the EU parliament elections on the way and more elections a possibility, we need to act now to make sure our elections are protected, before it’s too late.
Could you help protect our elections by becoming a Full Fact donor?
Misinformation isn’t new, but advancements in technology mean it can spread at an unprecedented scale. Our dangerously outdated election laws have not kept up with the digital age, putting our next elections at risk of abuse.
Currently, it’s possible for a candidate to run a thousand different political ads to win the same seat, promising something different to each group it targets. At the same time, there’s no law requiring those who publish online campaigns to disclose who they are or how they are funded. The opportunity for bad actors to manipulate election results is left wide open.
You may already know about our work to make public debate online more honest and transparent. Every day, we call out the most harmful misinformation on social media platforms when and where we see it. But right now, we’re urging the government to overhaul our election laws to make sure political campaigning is held to the same level of scrutiny online as it is offline.
This work all depends on the generosity of hundreds of people who all believe that for democracy to work, we need transparency. Our monthly donors help strengthen our voice, and show our politicians that this really matters. Would you consider joining them?
Become a donor today to make sure our elections are protected.