Next chief executive Lord Wolfson has said that a big reduction in immigration post-Brexit would damage the UK economy.

Wolfson, a Tory life peer who campaigned to leave the EU, told the BBC: “Any move to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands would be very dangerous for the economy.”

The Next boss urged the UK to “trade our way out of this mess”. He said: “I believe we should gain some control but we can either try and trade our way out of this mess or we can try and protect ourselves by erecting barriers to trade and movement of people. If we try and protect our way out of this, we are doomed.”

Next will not alter its investment plan following the referendum, Wolfson said. New chancellor Philip Hammond said yesterday that Brexit had a “chilling effect” on our economy and that businesses were pausing investment decisions to take stock.

Wolfson called on new prime minister Theresa May to set the UK’s direction of travel towards an open, competitive and global economy. He said investment from both home and abroad would follow.

He added that May’s big opportunity was to “liberate our housing, road building and energy sectors”.