With the recent public debate on channel migrant crossings focussing on the number of young men entering the UK from Albania, the country’s prime minister has made a dramatic intervention in the current discussions.
Speaking on the BBC 2 Newsnight programme last night, Edi Rama, said that he had become motivated to speak out because of ‘all kind of crazy’ words being thrown in the air. He suggested that the word ‘invasion’, as used by the home secretary, was the ‘peak’.
Edi Rama, a former professional basketball player, has been president of Albania since 2013. He has been Chairman of the country’s socialist party since 2005.
Mr Rama 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 but 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”.
Continuing he said, “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”.
Yesterday the Albanian prime minister, who has won three elections in a row, had a meeting with UK foreign secretary James Cleverly.
Describing the meeting as ‘important’ and stating that the UK and Albania are ‘close allies’, Mr Cleverly tweeted in response, “We agree that we must break the business model of people smugglers who are putting lives at risk”.
However in signs that the meeting may have involved a frank exchange from the Albanian side, Mr Rama expressed his concern about the impact of the language being used on Albanians living in the UK.
He told Newsnight, “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“.
The UK Border force indicated earlier this week that some 12,000 Albanians have crossed the Channel by small boat since the start of this year. 10,000 of this number have been described as ‘single adult males’, a number which has been equated to over one percent of the young male population of the country.
With many Albanians coming to the UK do so on the grounds of the ‘Modern Slavery Act’ introduced by Theresa May, Mr Rama likened the migration flow to that seen in the UK.
Defending his country, and the reason for people travelling, Mr Rama said, “The reason is exactly in the same place where young British kids from Britain, remote, remote areas and outskirts find the need and the push to leave their home, to leave their village, to live their very, very grey and hopeless areas, and to come to London. Albania has more hope then.”
Mr Rama’s intervention come as the government remains under pressure in relation to the number of people being housed at its Manston processing centre in east Kent.
With 3,500 people being housed at the centre, well in excess of its 1,600 capacity, the immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, confirmed that the government has now received an initial contact for judicial review in relation to Manston.