Illegal immigrants who have been living in the UK for seven years should be offered an amnesty which allows them to register as residents, pay taxes and earn citizenship, according to one of the Conservative Party's senior strategists.
Anthony Browne, who will take up his role as policy director with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, next month, says the only humane and practical way to deal with Britain's illegally settled community is to offer immunity from deportation.
His intervention, which will be followed by a Policy Exchange think-tank pamphlet later this year, will reignite a Westminster debate and could stoke policy tensions between Mr Johnson and the Tory leader, David Cameron.
Writing in The Independent today, Mr Browne argues that granting an amnesty would be "far fairer, humane, better for society and more economically efficient" than the status quo. There are up to a million illegal immigrants in the UK and both Labour and the Tories have in the past ruled out an amnesty.