Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said that he would back an amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the UK.
Going against the Coalition's opposition to the amnesty, Johnson argued that the government should be "honest" about the fact that long-term immigrants are not being chased by the authorities. Speaking on his Ask Boris show on LBC 97.3, the mayor said that it would be far better for these individuals to be engaged in society.
"We should have an amnesty," he said. "We've got people who've got in here illegally. They are not engaged with the economy and being honest with the system. The key thing is to stop them coming in in such numbers and be tougher in our approach to borders."
Johnson first called for an amnesty back in 2008 but has not repeated his statements recently in the wake of the current government's approach to immigration. However, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg brought the issue back up when he suggested earlier this year that his party was wrong to call for an amnesty.
A prominent Conservative MP, Nadhim Zahawi, has also waded into the discussion, stating that the move would help improve relations with ethnic minority voters. Johnson's views are slightly different to those of Zahawi, who called for a one-off amnesty for illegal immigrants in the UK in order to improve relations. Meanwhile, Johnson has suggested that individuals who have been resident in the UK for more than 12 years should be allowed to stay.
A full amnesty would affect around 570,000 illegal immigrants, but Zahawi has suggested that they should be given leave to remain rather than full citizenship.