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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

MP calls for amnesty for illegal immigrants to improve relations between Tories and minorities

A Conservative Party MP has called for a one-off amnesty for illegal immigrants to help improve the Party's reputation among ethnic minority voters. 

Iraqi-born Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-upon-Avon, said the move would also boost the British economy.

Mr Zahawi's comments are far removed from his Party's official stance on illegal immigrants and overstayers although London's Tory Mayor Boris Johnson has also previously called for a similar move. 

“We shouldn’t be afraid to think outside of our comfort zone”, Mr Zahawi said in an essay for a new conservative think tank called 'Right Revival'.

"Our failure to appeal to ethnic minorities should send loud alarm bells ringing in Downing Street", he added, referring to the fact that the Conservative Party picked up just 16 percent of the black and Asian vote in the last general election.

Mr Zahawi suggested an amnesty for the estimated 570,000 illegal immigrants would have a dramatic impact on the party’s standing among minority voters.

He said it would make financial sense as the vast hidden economy cheats the Treasury out of billions of pounds and undercuts the pay and conditions of low-income workers.

However, Mr Zahawi offered a caveat by saying that those immigrants who are granted amnesty should be given Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) rather than full citizenship, limiting their entitlement to benefits.

A 2009 study by the London School of Economics revealed that an amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants could be worth £3bn to the economy.

It also said migration would not increase because the UK has no land borders, except between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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