Brexit has been blamed for water companies dumping large quantities of sewage into the sea and polluting beaches in England and Wales after days of heavy rain.

Parched ground caused by scorching heat waves last month prevented subsequent heavy rains from being absorbed, causing the sewage system to overflow, water officials said.

Pollution warnings have been put in place for more than 40 beaches and bathing spots in the UK, with the south west and south coasts of England being the worst affected.

Swimmers are advised against swimming at seven beaches in Cornwall following storm drain overflows, including four in Devon and five in Dorset also polluted by recent downpours.

Nine beaches in Sussex, three on the Isle of Wight and three in Essex were also affected by stormwater.

Elsewhere, warnings have been put in place at locations in Lincolnshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and South Wales, as well as two inland wild bathing spots near Bristol and near Minehead in Somerset.

Many Twitter users rushed to comment on Brexit and the change in regulations for the appalling images of polluted beaches.

Twitter user with the username Parody Liz Truss wrote: “40 beaches in the UK are now dangerously polluted.

“That’s because leaving the EU has allowed us to go back to dumping raw sewage on beaches. That’s one of the benefits of Brexit.”

Someone with the username The Purple Pimpernel wrote: “Forty years ago EU regulations forced the UK to clean up its beaches.

“Two years on from Brexit, and we’re wallowing in raw sewage.”