Prime Minister David Cameron, reeling from a backlash over Britain's failure to help refugees from the Middle East, has hinted that the UK will abandon its embattled closed door policy.
The Conservative leader said that he was "deeply moved" by the pictures of drowned Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, telling the Press Association that the UK would fulfil its "moral responsibilities".
He added: "We are taking thousands of people, and we will take thousands of people." However, he made no specific commitment to take in additional refugees.
This was in stark contrast to a statement issued only 24 hours earlier, when he said that he would not order his government to give sanctuary to any more desperate Syrian refugees than the few hundred already offered asylum.
The new comments come hours after George Osborne sought to blame Islamic State (Isis) and criminal gangs for Kurdi's death.
The Conservative chancellor told Sky News: "What you need to do is, first of all, tackle Isis and the criminal gangs who killed that boy. You've get to make sure the aid keeps coming. We've put £1bn of overseas aid to help these desperate people and, of course, Britain has always been a home to real asylum-seekers, genuine refugees, we've taken 5,000 people from the Syrian conflict, we'll go on taking people and keep it under review."
More pressure was applied to the government by the UK's top Christian cleric. The Archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement saying his "heart is broken" after seeing images of Middle East migrants desperately trying to reach Europe.
Justin Welby made the comments after tragic pictures and video footage of a drowned young Syrian boy went viral and featured on newspaper front pages, after his body was washed up on a Turkish beach.
The story has escalated the debate in the UK over the migrant crisis, with Conservative MPs and commentators imploring the government to act against the humanitarian crisis engulfing Europe.
Speaking at a Hitachi train plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, the PM sought to chime in with the growing sense of anguish: "Anyone who saw those pictures overnight could not help but be moved and, as a father, I felt deeply moved by the sight of that young boy on a beach in Turkey," he said
Welby said in his statement. "There are no easy answers and my prayers are with those who find themselves fleeing persecution, as well as those who are struggling under immense pressure to develop an effective and equitable response. Now, perhaps more than ever in post-war Europe, we need to commit to joint action across Europe, acknowledging our common responsibility and our common humanity."