Aberdeen will be the hardest hit city in the UK by Brexit, according to a new report on the economic impact of withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

Other cities or urban areas such as London, Slough and Edinburgh are in the top ten of a list compiled by researchers at the Centre for Cities and the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at the London School of Economics.

The report said on the whole wealthy southern cities will be hit hard by either a soft or hard Brexit due to increased trading costs – but ultimately will be best-placed to adapt to these economic shocks over a ten-year period.

"Aberdeen will be hardest hit because of its reliance on the oil industry, which could be hugely affected by the introduction of tariffs," said a Centre for Cities spokesman. "It is a one-sector town and that sector and the businesses that serve the oil industry will all be knocked after Brexit."

In the event of a hard Brexit – where the UK leaves the EU to rely on World Trade Organisation rules – economic output on average will fall by 2.3% across all British cities, the survey said.

A soft Brexit – with Britain remaining inside an EU free trade area but still subject to various border checks – will see a 1.2% fall in economic activity across all UK cities.

The cities that will be most affected by Brexit are home to large "knowledge-intensive" sectors such as energy, financial services and other private businesses, which the survey said will be knocked hardest by tariff increases.

By contrast, the cities least affected by Brexit are largely in less prosperous parts of the country such as Mansfield, Barnsley or Swansea.

Bold and ambitious

The report said these cities are largely characterised by low numbers of high-skilled firms and workers in the private sector, which means they are both less vulnerable to the predicted post-Brexit downturn but also less well-equipped to respond to the economic shocks ahead.

Centre for Cities - Brexit ranking
Centre for Cities - Brexit ranking Centre for Economic Performance analysis, 2017

Cities such as London, Aberdeen and Edinburgh voted against Brexit in last June's referendum, the report pointed out.

But cities in the north of England, the Midlands and Wales generally backed the vote to leave the European bloc.

However, the urban area forecast to be least affected by Brexit is Crawley in the south-east of England, because of its proximity to Gatwick Airport which will continue to drive its economic growth.

Cities are forecast to be harder hit by Brexit than rural areas, simply because they host a greater amount of economic activity.

Tougher to adapt

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said: "All UK cities face significant economic challenges after we leave the EU, but the impact of both hard or soft Brexit will be felt very differently across the country.

"Contrary to much of the received wisdom on Brexit, it is the most prosperous UK cities which will be hit hardest by the downturn ahead – but poorer places across the North and Midlands will find it tougher to adapt."

The report comes as Scottish and Welsh government ministers are meeting in Cardiff to discuss Brexit legislation.

The UK government said it was committed to securing a "bold and ambitious" free trade deal and building on the diverse strengths of all the UK's cities and regions.