BOURNEMOUTH and Poole would be “disproportionately affected” by a no-deal Brexit, campaigners and a Dorset MP have said.

As reported yesterday, the two towns were on a leaked list drawn up by the government of 33 areas whose economies would be hardest hit.

Justin Smith, director of the Bournemouth web design company Orbital and a member of Dorset for Europe, claimed even a Brexit with a deal would damage the area.

“No-one voted to be poorer, and as the report published by the London School of Economics this week shows, Boris Johnson’s deal is likely to be worse than even Theresa May’s,” he said.

“It will affect financial services companies like JP Morgan, manufacturers like Sunseeker, our universities, language schools, hospitality, and the creative hub we’ve been building here.

“Brexit will be a disaster in any form, but Johnson’s version will be particularly bad for the region.”

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said: “Any business community or any part of Britain which is reliant on an international footprint will be disproportionately hit by no-deal. Our financial services sector is so reliant on data transfer which will be lost overnight were no deal to come about.

“From a tourism aspect, international movement would suffer too.

“It’s a sub-optimal outcome which was never debated in the original referendum. Much as it’s given airtime in the media, it’s not actually a destination. Fifty per cent of our trade is with continental Europe. You still need a relationship and need that trade to continue in one form or another.”

But David Young, the Brexit Party’s prospective candidate for Poole, said: “This report does not bear scrutiny because there are a very few points selected to try and substantiate the headline in relation to Bournemouth and Poole.

“There are many factors affecting the future of Bournemouth and Poole but more fundamentally you just need to look at the risks of a deal.”

He said remaining in the EU or leaving with a deal would both expose the UK to the risks of bailing out other countries or taking part in pan-European military plans. “Both those scenarios are full of enormous and grave risks to British finances and sovereignty. The risk of short-term turbulence arising from a no-deal exit pales by comparison,” he added.

The document leaked to the Sunday Times pointed out the reliance of Poole manufacturer Sunseeker on staff from other EU countries and on sales to Europe. It mentioned Bournemouth’s reliance on financial services companies such as JP Morgan.

It also said planning by the former Bournemouth council had been delayed by “staffing gaps”.

Graham Farrant, chief executive and Brexit lead for the new BCP Council, said: “Working with our public sector partners, workforce planning has been a key area of preparation as we recognise there are many EU citizens living and working in the local area.

“We support and value the contribution EU citizens bring to our local economy and are keen to retain those skills post Brexit.

“Therefore we are encouraging individuals, who wish to stay, to complete the free online application process as part of the EU Settlement programme before the December 2020 deadline.

“We are targeting our message with key business sectors to reach as many people as possible.

“BCP Council continues to make preparations to deal with any adverse effects of the UK leaving the European Union, through effective contingency planning, working with our partners in the public and private sectors.”