Albanian PM says UK in a ‘bad place’ and having a ‘nervous breakdown’ over immigration

Edi Rama says relations between countries reaches a low point

William Mata
Sunday 30 April 2023 17:49 BST
Albanian prime minister says UK ‘in a bad place’

Albania's prime minister has said Britain is in such a "bad, bad place" over the Channel migration crisis that government ministers are resorting to blaming his country "to feel like they still have muscle".

Edi Rama told the Delphi economic forum in Greece that he thinks Britain is suffering a “nervous breakdown” over immigration.

“They are in such a bad place, the poor Brits, that they have to go after Albanians to feel like they still have muscle,” Mr Rama said.

“No problem. We have a great respect for Britain and for what Britain represents and for British history and culture, so we will bear with them until they have overcome this situation.

“We used to think in terms of: ‘Wow, the Brits are talking evil about us.’ So what? It is not our problem. It is their problem.”

Mr Rama added: “We have fought against [rhetoric used against its citizens] and now we see they have calmed down a bit. But they are going through something of a nervous breakdown as a country so we have to understand them.

“It is not something we can’t understand, we have to understand them. They have lost a lot of points of reference and they are really in a bad, bad place.”

The UK faces a backlog of 140,000 cases through its asylum system, which ministers have admitted is “broken”.

Last month, Mr Rama hit out at the “disgraceful” way Suella Braverman had recently singled out migrants from his country, after the home secretary referred to “Albanian criminals” while addressing parliament.

The Cabinet minister also said that Albanians should not be claiming asylum in the UK because they are coming from a “safe country”, with Mr Rama saying the row marked a “very low point” in the relations between the two countries.

Earlier this week, Ms Braverman said migrants crossing the English Channel on small boats have values “at odds” with British norms and are linked to “heightened levels of criminality”.

“I think that the people coming here illegally do possess values, which are at odds with our country,” she said. “We are seeing heightened levels of criminality when related to the people who’ve come on boats, related to drug dealing, exploitation, prostitution.

“There are real challenges, which go beyond the migration issue of people coming here illegally. We need to ensure that we bring an end to the boat crossings.”

Edi Rama outside No 10 with Rishi Sunak

The illegal migration bill, which has cleared the Commons, will change the law so that those who arrive in the UK illegally will be detained and then promptly removed, either to their home country or a third country such as Rwanda.

The bill was attacked by critics including senior Tory Sir Bob Neill, who said Home Office failures are to blame for the small boats crisis.

Asked on GB News whether the reforms in the Bill will work, Sir Bob said: “I’m not convinced they will. A lot of the emphasis has been put on changing the law and on legislative solutions. I don’t think that’s where the issue lies.

“The real problem is that the system doesn’t work efficiently enough. We’re not getting a system where people who come in, potentially unlawfully, are being sent through the immigration tribunal and asylum system quickly enough.

“Administrative failures of the Home Office are to blame. That’s happened under successive home secretaries going back over years. The Home Office is not efficient.”

At the Delphi economic forum, Mr Rama said he wants Britain to adopt a system like the one in Germany, which would allow visas for Albanians arriving for certain jobs. This model would still see anyone arriving illegally deported.

The UK government has no plans to shift its position, which currently sees a points-based system in operation for immigration.

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