The European defence industry stands to suffer unless military cooperation ties are maintained after Brexit, warned Alessandro Profumo, the CEO of Italian defence group Leonardo.

“The more defence systems we have, the more costs we have. To lose the UK as a participant in these programmes would be a loss to everyone,” Mr Profumo said.

The UK plays a central role in the EU’s main defence programmes, including the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet and Galileo global navigation system.

Leonardo is the maker of the Yeovil military helicopters in Somerset, where it employs about 7,000 people, with some 25,000 more working in the supply chain. Moreover, Leonardo also produces airborne radars and sensors in Edinburgh. The company does not rely on just-in-time deliveries but most of its products are intended for export.

Leonardo is a partner of BAE Systems and Rolls Royce in the development of the Tempest new generation fighter, the replacement for the Typhoon multirole fighter jet.

Airbus employs 14,000 personnel directly and more than 100,000 in the supply chain. The company has also warned it will relocate in the event the UK leaves the Customs Union and the Single Market.

The UK announced in November 2018 that it will be withdrawing from the military dimension of the Galileo programme as it will be unable to participate in the decision-making process.