Albanian PM calls home secretary's attitude towards migrants a 'disgrace'

ITV News Reporter Amy Lewis questions Albania's prime minister, Edi Rama

Albania's prime minister Edi Rama has criticised the 'disgraceful' way migrants from his country have been singled out by the home secretary while visiting the UK.

Mr Rama, who has visited Britain for talks with Rishi Sunak, believes Albanians have been singled out by Suella Braverman and other UK ministers for political purposes.

It follows a diplomatic row that was sparked by Ms Braverman referring to “Albanian criminals” in Commons exchanges on the issue with Labour.

Ms Braverman also said that Albanians should not be claiming asylum in the UK because they are coming from a “safe country”.

Mr Rama said the row marked “a very low point” in relations but that he believes there is now a will to overcome their differences.

Speaking to ITV News, the Albanian PM said: "It is a very unfair attitude towards the fantastic Albanian community here in Britain - which is absolutely not about some rotten apples, but about people who are contributing to the British economy, big time."

Mr Rama and Mr Sunak spoke of a “shared priority” to tackle illegal migration and people-smugglers.

'Not all Britons are James Bond or Mr Bean, just as not all Albanians are characters from Taken,' said Edi Rama in a meeting with the PM. Credit: PA

Speaking alongside Mr Sunak as the pair met, Mr Rama said his visit to Downing Street was “an opportunity to underline that just as all Britons are not James Bond or Mr Bean, not all Albanians are some characters out of Taken”.

Ahead of talks, Mr Sunak said they would be discussing tackling migrant small boats crossing the Channel, including doing “more on prisoner returns”.

Mr Rama told Mr Sunak in No 10 on Thursday: “Dua Lipa is not just simply a British singer, but she’s an Albanian immigrant that has come here, as many have come to construct, to nurse, to cook and to sing for you, and we want to make sure that this community feels not only safe but feels honoured here."

The joint statement saw Mr Sunak and Mr Rama, who said he was “very honoured” to be the first Albanian premier to visit No 10, agree plans for UK and Albanian officials to conduct an assessment of the country’s prison capacity within the next month as part of efforts to return all eligible Albanian nationals currently in British prisons.

The two leaders, according to the statement, “discussed increased operational cooperation, including joint upstream communications to deter people from travelling in the first place, and further agreements on data sharing and passports”.

“The leaders welcomed progress to date, with around 800 illegal migrants returning to Albania since December, action on organised crime and new UK guidance designating Albania a safe country.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.