Writing in a comment piece in the Telegraph, William Hague outlined what his terms for Brexit would be if he were prime minister.
Calling for further tax cuts for businesses and families, the Lord also claimed his version of future Britain would “embrace rapid technological change” and focus on science and training rather than “propping anyone else up”.
And along with contributing to European security, the former Conservative leader revealed EU workers would still be allowed to continue to come into Britain if he was in charge.
But he warned he would not allow them to claim benefits or housing subsidies, and they would only be able to cross the border if they had already secured a job.
He said: “If you are from the EU and you get a job in Britain you are welcome to take it up. Large parts of our economy, from agriculture to the City, need you.
“But we will not pay you any benefits when you’re not working, or provide you with social housing.
“We will need to know you’re here, and if you commit a crime you will have to leave and never come back. That’s fairness.”
Lord Hague added if this approach failed to reduce migration Britain could reserve the right “to limit the numbers in any one year”.
The former foreign secretary also used his comments to urge Theresa May to avoid “inventing a costly and cumbersome system that would take years to set up and billions of pounds to police” as she prepares to open formal Brexit talks.
His comments come after leading Brexit supporter Iain Duncan Smith proposed a work permit system that would allow Britain to tailor the levels of immigration for each individual business sector.
While senior business figures in the City of London called for Brexit to be delayed by up to three years so companies can adjust to the changes.
HSBC chairman Douglas Flint and Xavier Rolet, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, told MPs at a Treasury Select Committee meeting yesterday that they needed a five-year transition period from when Article 50 is triggered.
Mr Rolet said London could lose its “global leadership” and 232,000 jobs.
The duo, along with Allianz Global Investors vice chairman, were called in front of the inquiry on Tuesday to investigate claims the financial sector had exxagerated the negative impact of brexit with scare mongering comments ahead of the June 23 referendum.