SWINDON will be among the UK’s cities hardest hit by Brexit, new research suggests.

The London School of Economics has published an analysis of the possible effects of a ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit on towns and cities all over the country.

And it says Swindon will likely be the fourth most negatively affected city as a direct result of leaving the European Union.

Economic output in UK cities is measured by Gross Value Added. The report predicted that a ‘hard’ Brexit, in which Britain trades with the European Union under World Trade Organization rules, would see a GVA decline of 2.3 per cent on average.

The drop under a ‘soft’ Brexit, in which the UK forms a free trade area with Europe, is predicted to be 1.2 per cent lower.

The report predicts that Swindon’s GVA will decline by 2.8 per cent under a hard Brexit and 1.5 per cent under a soft Brexit.

The authors of the report, Naomi Clayton and Professor Henry Overman of the LSE’s Centre For Economic Performance, said: “All British cities are set to be negatively affected as a result of higher trade costs between the UK and EU, and this impact will be greater in the scenario of a ‘hard’ Brexit.”

But Ian Larrard, the director of the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative at Business West, shrugged off the findings and said there was good reason to be optimistic.

He said: “While it is disappointing that Swindon has been identified as one of the towns and cities most likely to be hardest hit by Brexit, there’s also grounds for cautious optimism.

“The businesses that we represent are still trading, still hiring and still investing in Swindon.

“Just last week BMW, one of Swindon’s large employers, announced its plans to manufacture its new electric Mini in the UK.

“Come what may I am confident that Swindon will remain open for business.”

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson also reminded people that the report was published in the same week news broke of BMW’s announcement.which quashed speculation that, due to Brexit, the electric Minis would have to be made in Europe.

Justin said the decision is evidence that the country remains a top destination for foreign investment.

He said: “Our decisive action to rebalance our economy, support business and deliver a Brexit that embraces the opportunities of a growing global economy is paying dividends.”

The report’s authors concluded:“The insight presented in this paper is intended to complement local knowledge.”

The UK city set to be hit the hardest by a hard Brexit, according to the report, is Aberdeen, whose GVA is predicted to drop 3.7 per cent.

“Ultimately, with a large degree of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it is difficult to predict exactly how local economies will respond to its likely negative impacts.

“It is important that cities continue to monitor local business performance and the factors that affect it through business surveys, account management systems and data.”