Leaders of Italy’s triumphant conservative alliance have called for a radical change in the EU’s negotiating stance over Brexit, describing threats to restrict trade and punish Britain as ideological idiocy.

“Great Britain is a friendly country with a long tradition of trading with Italy,” said Matteo Salvini, leader of the Lega party and the man poised to become prime minister if the centre-Right coalition forms the next government.

“You made a free choice with Brexit and I very much hope that it will be possible to maintain completely open trade with the EU without any penalties,” he told The Daily Telegraph.