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Boris Johnson backs amnesty for illegal immigrants in the UK as 'the humane thing to do'

Both the Remain and Leave campaigns are making their last pitches for the EU referendum as we enter the final days of the campaigning period

Siobhan Fenton
Sunday 19 June 2016 18:11 BST

Boris Johnson tried to soften the Leave campaign's public stance on immigration as senior Brexit figures clashed over a controversial anti-migrant poster.

Mr Johnson said he would be in favour of an amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been living in the UK for more than 12 years. The announcement was reportedly met with booes and shouts of "no" within the hall from members of the audience.

The Conservative politician said in a speech that an amnesty for illegal immigrants would not only be economically beneficial but would be “the humane thing to do.”

He said: “Yes, let us take back control of our borders with a sensible, fair and impartial system. And let me take on this issue absolutely directly. Because I am pro-immigration, my friends. I am the proud descendent of Turkish immigrants.

"And let me stun you, perhaps, by saying I would go further. I am not only pro-immigration, I’m pro-immigrants, but I am in favour of an amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been here for more than 12 years, unable to contribute to this economy, unable to pay taxes, unable to take proper part in society.

“And I will tell you why: because it is the humane thing to do. It is the economically rational thing do to. And it means taking back control of a system that is at the moment completely out of control.

“And if we take back control of our immigration system with an Australian-style points-based system, you will be dealing fairly and justly with every part of the world, and you will be neutralising people in this country and across Europe who wish to play politics with immigration and who are opposed to immigrants. And that is the way forward, to neutralise the extremists by taking back control of our immigration system.”

Earlier today, divisions appeared to show in the Leave campaign as senior figures sought to distance themselves from Nigel Farage's controvsial anti-immigration poster which has been compared to Nazi propaganda.

Michael Gove told The Marr show: "When I saw that poster I shuddered. I thought it was the wrong thing to do."

Chancellor George Osborne also criticised the poster, describing Mr Farage's campaign tactics as "disgusting and vile" and saying the poster echoed facist propaganda from the 1930s.

Latest polls suggest a swing in support towards the Remain campaign, with 44 per cent of the population intending to vote to stay compared to 43 per cent wishing to leave. One in 10 voters remains undecided about which side to lend their support to. Previous polls have recently suggested a comfortable margin in Leave's favour.

However, the strength of conviction on different sides varies, with 44 per cent of voters saying they’d be “delighted” by Brexit compared to 28 per cent of people saying the same about a Remain verdict.

Campaigning was temporarily suspended following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox this week, before resuming this weekend. Votes will be cast on Thursday, with results expected to be indicated in the early hours of Friday morning.

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