London mayor Boris Johnson says he would support an amnesty for illegal immigrants who have lived in Britain for 12 years or more.
Mr Johnson's comments are at odds with his party's official stance on undocumented workers and echoes comments by fellow Tory Nadhim Zahawi who said last week that an amnesty would "boost the economy" and improve the Conservative Party's standing among ethnic minority voters.
Speaking on his weekly radio show on LBC 97.3, Mr Johnson said: "They (illegal immigrants) are not engaged with the economy and being honest with the system."
Mr Johnson however, said that a "tougher approach" to Britain's borders and criticized the laws that constrain the government from tracking down and deporting illegal immigrants.
"The key thing is to stop them coming in such numbers and be tougher in our approach to borders. The culture of human rights is such that it is blindingly difficult to get people onto planes”, he said.
“These people will melt away into the undergrowth and be lost again – one reason why people have lost confidence in the immigration system. What we need to do is make it clear to illegal immigrants where to go.”
Mr Johnson, who is a well known supporter of immigration and multiculturalism and is married to Indian, first called for an amnesty five years ago.
Estimates of the number of illegal immigrants in Britain range from the tens of thousands to more than 300,000.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS