EEF economist, Francesco Arcangeli, said: “It appears that reality abruptly kicked in October with today’s manufacturing PMI illustrating that manufacturing activity slowed sharply, ahead of the Bank of England’s MPC decision later today.

The index contracted significantly from 53.6 to 51.1 - the biggest decrease seen since the aftermath of the EU referendum.

Both orders and output were down with the consumer goods sector particularly affected by the slowdown. Export orders, which have been the major factor behind the expansion of 2017, decreased quickly and domestic orders were too weak to offset the bad performance.

Companies are particularly concerned about rising trade tensions, a Brexit situation which still lacks clarity and the recent volatility in the commodity and foreign exchange market.

This underlines once more how important stability is, and how a clear decision on Brexit is needed to bring back optimism to the sector.”