Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama accused Britain of becoming like a “madhouse” with a culture of “finding scapegoats” during a migration crisis where “failed policies” are to blame. Mr Rama hit out at Suella Braverman’s “crazy” choice of language in a combative Commons debate this week, where she claimed there was an “invasion on our southern coast”.
He 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!).”
The Home Secretary will visit Dover as she battles to get a grip on the chaos in the asylum system amid international criticism over her claim the UK faced an “invasion” of migrants.
Ms Braverman is under mounting political pressure over the illegal conditions at the Manston immigration processing centre in Kent, where around 3,500 people are being detained for weeks in a site intended to hold 1,600 for a matter of days.
Government minister Graham Stuart conceded on Thursday the site was not operating legally and “none of us are comfortable with it”, while he also acknowledged there had been “unfortunate language” used to describe the crisis following the condemnation of Ms Braverman’s comments.
The Home Secretary is expected to shy away from press questions during her visit to Dover, the scene of a petrol bomb attack on an immigration facility on Sunday, amid concerns in Kent of rising far-right activity fuelled by the failure to control the number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats.
Climate minister Mr Stuart told Sky News: “I’m grateful for the work we’re doing with the Albanians, they have been sending senior police officers over so as to speed up processing, we’ve got an expedited system to return Albanians if it turns out they are not legitimate asylum seekers.
“So we are trying to work in co-operation, but clearly there’s pressure. You can see it from councillors, you can see it from members of parliaments, you can hear it from people and journalists around the country.
“It can lead to language which is sometimes unfortunate and it is worth putting on record our gratitude to the Albanian government for their co-operation in working to sort this out.”
Asked whether he was happy that asylum seekers were being detained illegally at Manston, he said: “Obviously not. None of us are comfortable with it. We want it tackled, we want to get a grip, that’s exactly what the Home Secretary is focused on.”
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Mr Stuart sought to blame an “unacceptable surge” in small boat crossings for the problem, adding that the “system is struggling to cope”.
“It is not where we want it to be right now and we are simply looking to balance that out, thousands more hotel rooms have been sorted out but it’s unacceptable to the British people and we need to do more to tackle the traffickers in what is an unprecedented surge in illegal immigration,” he added.
The grim conditions at Manston were laid bare in a letter thrown by a young girl over the perimeter fence to a PA news agency photographer, claiming there were pregnant women and sick detainees there.
The note, written in broken English and addressed to “journalists, organisations, everyone”, appeared to suggest 50 families had been held there for more than 30 days.
Asylum seekers were also reportedly left at London’s Victoria station without accommodation after being taken off the premises.
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The group of 11 men were driven to the capital from Kent on Tuesday as part of a larger group, according to The Guardian.
Danial Abbas, from the Under One Sky homelessness charity, said the men were left “highly distressed, disorientated, lost” in London, with “nowhere to go”.
Mr Abbas told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that someone from the Home Office “put his hands up on behalf of the Home Office and said ‘this has been a massive error, let’s get this sorted ASAP”‘.
Mr Abbas said that “very quickly a solution was found” and the group was taken to a hotel in Norwich.
Four parliamentary committee chiefs piled further pressure on the Home Secretary to explain how the Government will get a grip on both the situation at the Kent facility and the migrant crisis in general.
In a joint letter to Ms Braverman, the chairs of the Home Affairs Committee, Justice Committee, Joint Committee on Human Rights and Women and Equalities Committee expressed their “deep concerns” over the “dire” conditions at Manston, asking what will be done to address the current situation and avoid overcrowding in future.
Council chiefs in Kent have warned the county is at “breaking point” as a result of the migrant situation, with the potential for disorder at Manston and the risk of far-right violence.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has described the migrant crisis as a “serious and escalating problem” and admitted that “not enough” asylum claims are being processed, but insisted the Government is getting a grip on the situation.