Saturday 13 October 2018

Has the BBC fact-checked this?

John Pienaar (no relation to Peter from the Richard Hannay books)

John Pienaar's report on last night's BBC One News at Six began: 
The picture's building, and it's not pretty. Of course it may never happen, but Brexit with no deal could mean disruption to travel, trade, business. Warning notices are pouring out of Government now - 106 and counting. The latest? Could we see this in Northern Ireland? There would have to be action to protect energy supplies, keep the lights on, if EU rules suddenly fall away. Could the Eurostar keep running? International rail services run on EU wide agreements. They would have to be replaced, maybe quickly. And what about trade, not just with the EU but the 40-odd countries Britain buys and sells to and from as part of the union? No deal with them could mean new tariffs and checks on business covering around 12% of UK trade around the world. The Brexit Secretary is looking on the bright side. 
If the Brexit Secretary was looking on the bright side, then the Minister for Trade and Investment seems to have been looking at a TV screen, watching John Pienaar's report and not liking it. He then tweeted the following:

If Mr Hands is correct, then John Pienaar got his facts spectacularly wrong there. 

And, Googling around, it turns out that Mr Hands is indeed correct about it being "40 deals with 70 countries", not the "40-odd countries" the BBC's deputy political editor talks of. (Every non-BBC report I've come across has eported this correctly.)

On the second point - the "12% of UK trade" point - there's more confusion. Other outlets are also saying that 12% of "total" UK trade could be put at risk. So who's right here?

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