Brits could find it more difficult to eat out if the government fails to find a way to fill jobs in the UK after Brexit, according to The Pizza, Pasta & Italian Food Association (PAPA).

Research by PAPA has suggested that more than half the workforce currently working in restaurants and pizza delivery businesses across the UK would have to leave if there was no agreement with Europe.

PAPA said that without overseas workers, the industry would struggle to provide the level of service consumers had come to expect and many might be forced to close.

“The uncertainty over Brexit is already being felt,” said Jim Winship, director of PAPA. “Some workers from overseas have already started leaving because they feel insecure and this is not helped by the weak pound.

He added: “Unless the government gives some real assurances soon, this could turn into a flood and many of our member businesses would struggle.

“Although Theresa May has made a statement that those EU nationals resident in the UK for more than five years would be offered residency if the EU reciprocates with UK nationals, this does not entirely give confidence and does not deal with the ongoing needs of the hospitality industry.”

PAPA is calling on the government to introduce a visa system that would allow unskilled or semi-skilled workers into the country for a limited period to take up vacancies that cannot otherwise be filled.

Pret HR director Andrea Wareham raised concerns about retaining non-EU staff post-Brexit at an economics affairs committee in March.