The Brexiters are continuing to push the lie that “A bad trade deal will hurt the EU more than the UK”.
They often said during the referendum campaign that “they sell more to us than we do to them". That's true because (rather unsurprisingly) 27 countries sell more to 1 country than 1 sells to 27, but total volume is less important than what proportion of trade that represents.
1% of China's trade is a huge volume, but if 99% goes elsewhere, the country to which China exports 1% won't hold much sway. In 2016, 46% of UK exports went to the EU and 8-17% (depending on how it's measured) of EU27 exports went to the UK.
If there is no trade deal, the EU27 lose access to or (more realistically) get increased cost & hassle with ONE country. The UK on the other hand loses access/gets increased cost & hassle with 27 countries plus EEA/EFTA countries and all the 50 countries the EU has trade deals/arrangements with e.g.Canada, Mexico, Chile, Turkey etc.
Germany is the EU's biggest exporter to Britain. In November 2016, a spokesperson for the BDI (German CBI) said that while 7.5% of German exports go to the UK, 92.5% go elsewhere, mostly to other EU countries hence the first priority for German businesses is to defend the single market.
Yet still today, the Brexiters talk about German businesses putting pressure on Merkel to give the UK a good deal. It’s not going to happen; while they would prefer it to be otherwise, German businesses are resigned to the fact that exporting to the UK is likely to get more difficult and expensive.
Sadly, the UK has much more to lose and the government knows this. This is why they are already pushing the "punishment" narrative. Blaming the EU is the only way the government can avoid being blamed for failing to deliver a have-your-cake-and-eat-it EU trade deal that has been promised by both David Davis and Theresa May.
The EU has no desire to punish Britain, but it will defend the interests of its remaining 27 member countries. That means the UK cannot have more advantageous trade arrangements outside the EU than as a member, which should be mind numbingly obvious. But watch and see how anything less than the rest of the EU bowing down to Britain and allowing us to cherry pick the trade deal we want, will be sold by the government and pro Brexit media as “punishment”.
Had the government taken a more realistic and collaborative approach, the chances of a good (as in least worst, not better than we have now) trade deal would be much much higher. Whether you voted Leave or Remain that the government is behaving in a way that makes a good trade deal with the EU LESS LIKELY should anger you!