Ex-CIA director David Petraeus warned British voters today that leaving the EU would do nothing to protect them from future terrorist attacks.

In the wake of the Brussels attack last week – the second deadly terrorist atrocity to hit a European capital within five months – the retired four-star US general said it would be the worst time for Britain and the EU if voters opted to leave in June’s referendum.

General Petraeus, who led US and Nato forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, said it would ‘deal a significant blow to the EU’s strength and resilience at exactly the moment when the West is under attack from multiple directions’.

His comments directly contradict his fellow ex-CIA director General Michael Hayden, who said on Friday that Britain’s national security will not be harmed if it leaves the EU.

He said membership of the 28-state bloc ‘in some ways gets in the way of the state providing security for its own citizens’ and dismissed claims by In campaigners that the UK would lose out from shared intelligence if it voted to leave.

And he warned that the UK should not rely on the poor intelligence services of many EU member states such as Belgium, whose authorities failed to stop home-grown terrorists kill 31 people last week.

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