Migrant crisis is down to failed policies – not Albanians, says nation’s PM

The prime minister of Albania said Britain is becoming like a “madhouse” with a culture of “finding scapegoats” during the migration crisis when “failed policies” are to blame.

Edi Rama, who said he was “disgusted”, commented on Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s choice of language in a combative Commons debate this week in which she claimed there is an “invasion” of England by migrants crossing the Channel.

Mr Rama referred to the “crazy words” and said this sort of language fuels xenophobia and goes against “the great British tradition of integrating the minorities”.

Under-fire Ms Braverman has frequently singled out Albanian asylum seekers after their numbers crossing the Channel in small boats spiralled.

She has also been considering negotiating a “bespoke route” with the nation to get failed Albanian asylum seekers removed from the UK quicker.

Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight, Mr Rama said: “I thought it came a point where it was impossible to not react because it was really an embarrassment for our civilisation to hear all kind of crazy words being thrown in the air like normality and ‘invasion’ was the peak.

“It’s about the climate that has been created, and it’s about finding scapegoats and blaming others.

“While it’s very obvious, even from Tirana, which is not so near to London, that it’s about failed policies, it’s not about Albanians or aliens or gangsters, but it’s about failed policies on borders and on crime.”

Cabinet meeting
Home Secretary Suella Braverman (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Asked what the consequence of this language might be for Albanians settled in the UK, he said: “It doesn’t come for good. This kind of language is not a policy, is not a programme, is not a vision, is nothing but to fuelling xenophobia and targeting, singling out community and practically going totally against the great British tradition of integrating the minorities.

“Britain was a role model in this and now is becoming like, I don’t know, like a madhouse.

“I’m not angry at all. I’m a big admirer of the United Kingdom. I have friends that I’m privileged to have there, and I admire everything that Britain represents.

“But I really am disgusted about this kind of politics that at the end is doomed to fail.”

Asked whether he would be happy to work with UK Government and agencies to clamp down on the trafficking gangs, he said his country works with UK agencies already.

“It’s not the UK great professionals. The problem is this political rhetoric of nonsense,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Rama called for “mutual respect” as he struck out at the “insane” and “easy rhetoric” of targeting his citizens for the UK’s border failures.

Mr Rama tweeted: “Targeting Albanians (as some shamefully did when fighting for Brexit) as the cause of Britain’s crime and border problems makes for easy rhetoric but ignores hard fact.

“Repeating the same things and expecting different results is insane – ask Einstein.”

Asked about Mr Rama’s comments on Wednesday evening, immigration minister Robert Jenrick said the UK should prioritise refuge for people in “genuine danger”.

He told Sky News’ The Take with Sophy Ridge: “I want to have a constructive and productive relationship with our Albanian friends. That’s extremely important.

“But it is correct that a quarter of people who’ve come in small boats have come from Albania this year, and the NCA, our national crime organisation, has said that a very significant proportion of serious organised crime is emanating from those individuals.”

Ms Braverman told MPs on Monday the UK has seen a “surge in the number of Albanian arrivals” and said that “many of them I am afraid to say abusing our modern slavery laws”.

She was widely criticised for her choice of language during the Commons debate when she said there is an “invasion” of England by migrants crossing the Channel.

Ms Braverman agreed with Tory backbencher Lee Anderson who brought up “Albanian criminals” and suggested those who dislike UK accommodation “can get on a dinghy and go straight back to France”.

Last week, MPs were told that 12,000 Albanians had arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year, compared to 50 in 2020.

Ms Braverman has been facing criticism for the severe overcrowding and poor conditions at the Manston migrant processing facility in Kent and a failure to tackle Channel crossings.

The problems have added to her woes as she continues to face scrutiny over the security breach that saw her lose her job under Liz Truss, before she was reinstated by Rishi Sunak.