ONE in five companies would have to slash investment, cut recruitment or move operations to the EU under a no deal Brexit, Dorset’s top spokesman for business has warned.

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, criticised the “opposition and stalling” over a withdrawal agreement with the European Union.

Theresa May is attempting to modify her withdrawal deal after it was rejected by a record margin of 230 votes in the House of Commons last week.

Mr Girling, who had urged politicians to back the deal, said: “The ongoing opposition and stalling around the exit proposals continues to frustrate and cause great concern to businesses. We are seeing investments and capital expenditure decisions being put on hold and businesses continue to face huge uncertainties as the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit seems more likely.

“Research by the British Chambers of Commerce shows that in the event of one in five businesses would have to cut their investment, recruitment or move some or all of their operations to the EU. We need to avoid a no deal scenario and call on our politicians to come together and do the right thing for UK businesses.”

The warning is the latest of several about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

n The CBI said an analysis of government figures showed a no-deal Brexit could cost the South West £13billion in lost output by 2034. It said 45 per cent of the region's exports are to the EU.

n The UK aerospace industry, worth £35billion in turnover in 2017, could lose investment and face supply chain problems if there was no Brexit deal, according to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. It employs more than 120,000 people and earns £30bn from experts.

n Polish Business Link surveyed 500 entrepreneurs and found 48 per cent had already suffered difficulties in recruitment, while 46 per cent had considered moving back to Poland or another EU country. Seventy per cent there had been no impact yet on relations with the business community or neighbours.

n Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood claimed the town’s biggest employer, JP Morgan, would “think about departing Bournemouth”, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Former chancellor George Osborne has said delaying Brexit is now the “most likely” option.

But international trade secretary Liam Fox claimed yesterday that delaying or cancelling Brexit would be worse than leaving with no deal.

He said MPs should consider the “political consequences” of delaying Brexit not just the “short-term economic consequences”.