Boris Johnson hasn’t returned my calls since I quit Cabinet

Mr Sunak, who campaigned for Vote Leave, said that he was “puzzled” by accusations from some quarters that he is not enough of a Brexiteer.

“I keep reading that somehow I’m not Brexity enough in this leadership race,” he said. “I do think I was the one that actually voted and campaigned for Brexit in the first place.

“I’ve radically set up new freeports across the country, an idea that I came up with, that right now are attracting jobs and investment to places that desperately need it.”

He added: “My business experience means I can lead our economy into the future and seize those opportunities that are there waiting for us if we are prepared to be bold and ambitious about grabbing them.”

Ms Truss said that she was “pretty equivocal at the time” on Brexit in the run-up to the 2016 referendum, in which she voted Remain, and she “wasn’t sure”. She said that she was “concerned about the potential disruption” of leaving the EU.

Ms Truss said that she would not introduce an “arbitrary” cap on immigration because: “I think we should have the skills we need in our country, but I don’t believe in an arbitrary target and when we had one before it didn’t work.”

She said she would pull Britain out of the European Court of Human Rights, which is not part of the EU, adding: “If we need to, but I’d rather legislate through the British Bill of Rights.”

Asked how many post-Brexit trade deals were now in force, she said there were “just over 70” and that some had provided UK firms with “better deals than they’d had under the EU”. 

“I would love the media to spend more time talking about trade deals rather than about political rows,” she added.

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