William Hague has warned Theresa May she needs to adopt a “liberal approach” to immigration after Brexit.
The former Conservative Party leader and foreign secretary, said it was “essential to our economy in the short term”.
He told BBC Radio 4 that while the UK would “take back control” of immigration policy once it left the UK this did not have to mean shutting the door.
“We take back control but we use that to enter a strong free trade agreement.
“You can take back control of a gun but it doesn’t mean you use it to shoot your foot off,” he said.
With the right attitude on migration it’s possible to reach the right solution on trade.
“And I think that’s something that the Conservative party could support across the board and that many business organisations and people in other parties could then support.”
He added: “So there is a way through, but I’m not pretending this is easy to arrive at, to negotiate exactly in that form. The Government faces the most complex task of any government since the Second World War. It is a very difficult one.”
Hague campaigned for a ‘Remain’ vote at the referendum last year.
His comments came as the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) think-tank said walking away from the EU without a deal on future relations would not be a disaster for the UK because the country could still enjoy most trade benefits.
The UK would revert to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules with the EU if a post-Brexit deal is not struck and consumers across Europe would be hit hardest if Brussels then imposed tariffs, the IEA said.