BRITAIN'S membership of the European Union is "vital" to thousands of jobs and cutting-edge science in Oxfordshire, it has been warned.

Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister and brother of Boris Johnson, made the remarks today as he opened two state-of-the-art centres worth a combined £17m in Culham.

He said: "The hard-work of scientists, academics and apprentices here is a prime example of why the UK is a world-leader in scientific discovery.

"Our membership of the EU is vital to the research at Culham and across the UK."

The two buildings are based at the site of the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion experiment, the world’s largest fusion device, and will provide the UK Atomic Energy Agency with advanced robots and high-tech materials for testing of fusion power.

JET is backed by £2.5bn in funding from the EU and supports nearly 700 local skilled jobs. According to the Government, the UK invests 12 per cent in the EU total budget and gets back over 15 per cent of EU science funding.

During his visit, Mr Johnson also announced the new £15m Oxford Advanced Skills Centre which will train 125 apprentices in specialist engineering.

It came as Britain Stronger In Europe warned the South East would be hit hardest by so-called 'Brexit', with a report by the Treasury warning 74,000 jobs could be lost.

The claim was rubbished by Vote Leave, however, with former Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith adding: "This Treasury document is not an honest assessment but a deeply biased view of the future and it should not be believed by anyone."

The referendum on Britain's EU membership will take place on June 23.