More than a fifth of businesses will cut investment and scale down recruitment if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has warned.

A survey of 1,500 businesses by the British Chambers of Commerce found that 24 per cent would curtail investment if a Brexit deal was not struck, while 22 per cent would hold back on recruiting staff.

The survey – which covered businesses of all sizes and from all sectors across the UK – found, in contrast, that only four per cent would increase investment in a no-deal Brexit scenario, and just three per cent would take on more staff.

The warning comes just over seven weeks before the target date of October 31 set by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Government for Britain to leave the EU – with or without a deal.

This week Mr Johnson was forced to deny he lied to the Queen in order to secure the suspension of Parliament after a Scotland’s highest civil court rules that the five-week prorogation was unlawful because it was obtained for the “improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.

While the PM has insisted the suspension would allow the Government to set out a new legislative programme in a Queen's Speech on October 14, opposition MPs have argued the real reason it to stop Parliament holding the Government to account over its Brexit plans.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive, Rob Johnston said that while the organisation does not have a stance on Brexit, it has been clear that leaving the EU without a deal would be “highly disruptive”.

“There would be no transition period for businesses to adjust,” he said.

“The impacts would be immediate – tariffs from day one, extra paperwork such as customs declarations and potentially interruptions to supply chains.

“We’ve been working to help businesses prepare for no-deal. There’s a huge amount of information in the Brexit Insight section on the Cumbria Business Growth Hub website.

“But we’re clear that no deal isn’t a good outcome for businesses and this latest research from the British Chambers of Commerce underlines that.”

Of the business surveyed, those employing more than 50 people were more likely to make cuts to investment and recruitment, while nearly one in five said they would move some or all of their business overseas. In contrast, only two per cent they are planning to move existing overseas operations to the UK.

“The survey echoes the findings of the Cumbrian Brexit-preparedness survey we carried out earlier this year,” continued Mr Johnston.

“There is already evidence that simply planning for no deal is sapping businesses’ time, energy and resources. If it becomes a reality, the impacts will be even greater.”

The British Chamber of Commerce’s survey follows publication of the Government’s Yellowhammer contingency plan outlining “reasonable worst-case assumptions” for a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

It reveals that business preparedness for no deal is low, particularly among small and medium-sized firms – which account for the bulk of Cumbria’s business community.

The plan comes as economic experts and big businesses warn of the potential damaging impact of a no-deal Brexit.

New analysis, set to be released tomorrow, says such as scenario could lead to the first recession in the UK – although experts have previously warned that the economy could shrink even if a deal is struck and Britain adjusts to the new arrangements.

Meanwhile, the John Lewis Partnership has warned that it would take a “significant” hit from a no-deal Brexit and make it impossible for the retailer to offset its first ever half year loss.