Mrs Leadsom, a breakout star of the referendum TV debates, also swatted aside suggestions that Britain will compromise on free movement to retain access to the single market, insisting that the next Government must take back control of our borders.
She said: “Freedom of movement will end and the British parliament will decide how many people enter our country each year to live, work, and contribute to our national life.
“We have to very quickly get in control of the numbers of people who are coming here. Whether that means we have to have a transitional arrangement since the referendum, or indeed since negotiations start, but what is very clear is that what we must prioritise that as soon as possible.”
Asked about comments by the Remain campaigner and Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, suggesting that Britain will not be able to maintain access to the single market without accepting free movement, she replied: “Democratically elected European parliaments will take pragmatic decisions about what’s in their interests and they will choose to give tariff free access to the UK for all sorts of reasons, and we will be able to continue to trade with them tariff free.”
She said she did not believe free movement would become a “bargaining chip” with EU leaders once the economic consequences of losing trade with Britain focussed their minds.