Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has suggested that Britain's elite forces should be sent to Libya Getty

Britain's most elite group of soldiers should be sent to North Africa to stop people traffickers smuggling migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe, Boris Johnson has suggested.

The top Tory said "you need to chock off the problem at source" after up to 950 migrants drowned off the Libyan coast on their way to the continent.

The Mayor of London was pressed on his thoughts during an interview on LBC Radio after he stressed "you need to do something about it".

"Isn't the tradition that you don't discuss the use of Special Forces?," he replied. The comment prompted host Nick Ferrari to push Johnson on the possibility of sending the Special Air Service (SAS).

"I'm a long way away from the discussions about this but there are clearly some very highly organised and ruthless people who are sending people to their deaths in the Mediterranean," he said.

"It seems to me that is something which should be the object of concerted European response led by Britain."

Johnson eventually gave into Ferrari, who asked him again about deploying the world-renowned SAS to North Africa. "I don't see why not," Johnson replied.

The remarks come ahead of talks between David Cameron and other European Union (EU) leaders in an emergency meeting tomorrow (23 April) in Brussels.

The prime minister stressed that the group of nations must "deal with the instability in the countries concerned".

"We've got to make sure yes, there is an element of search and rescue, but that can only be one part of this and we should use all the resources we have, including our aid budget which can play a role in trying to stabilise countries and trying to stop people from travelling," he said.

Nigel Farage, meanwhile, said this morning that a "big message" must come from the likes of Italy and Greece on the issue.

"Unless you send a message that you are not going to unconditionally accept unlimited numbers of people, they are going to keep coming," the Ukip leader told BBC Breakfast.

The comments come amid the general election campaign in the UK, with just 14 days to go until polling day.