Rishi Sunak’s Plan to Prevent Albanian Migrants

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Recently, it is seen that the relations between the United Kingdom (UK) and Albania have been strained. The main reason for this is the illegal entry of Albanian migrants into the UK through the English Channel. In particular, the fact that more than half of the irregular migration to the UK consists of Albanians causes London to focus on the issue. Moreover, the fact that the Conservative Government in the UK has a harsh policy against irregular migration also escalates the tension between the parties.

In the UK, the Conservative Party, unlike the main opposition Labour Party, comes to the fore with harsh measures on irregular migration. It can be said that the Conservative Party’s policy is in a continuum, regardless of Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and Rishi Sunak. All three Prime Ministers have adopted a common approach to irregular migration in general and Albanian migrants. However, the fact that Sunak is not an ethnic Briton compared to the other two Prime Ministers leads him to pursue harsher policies on irregular migration to procure acceptance himself.

On the other hand, the majority of those who entered the UK through the Channel are immigrants of Albanian origin. Looking at the statistical data, the UK Government points out that Albanians currently make up about 60% of the people crossing the English Channel. This figure is also striking in that it is 100 times higher than in 2021.[1] In addition, the financial difficulties of Albanians in recent years have increased emigration. In this context, the UK stands out as the country where Albanians try to migrate the most.

Predictably, this has made immigration from Albania the number one problem in Britain’s migration policy. So much so that, on October 31, 2022, British Home Secretary Suella Braverman described the small boat crossings through the Channel as an invasion of the country’s southern coast and suggested that “illegal immigration” was out of control.[2]

Before Braverman, his predecessor Priti Patel also made statements targeting Albanians on the issue of irregular migration. Therefore, the fact that ministers at the highest levels of the British bureaucracy made such statements increased the tension between the parties.

On the other hand, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama reacted strongly to Braverman’s statements. Rama accused Braverman of stoking xenophobia and said it was insane for London to blame Albania for its immigration problems, adding that the situation was related to the UK’s failed policy.[3] As can be seen, the two North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have been at odds due to irregular migration.

Along with all this, on 4 December 2022, British Immigration Secretary Robert Jenrick demanded that Albanians be banned from seeking asylum in the UK because they come from a considerably safe country.[4] These statements of the British Minister are remarkable in that they show the importance that London attaches to the problem. At this point, it can be argued that the main aim of the UK Government is to reduce the number of Albanian migrants to a minimum.

As can be understood, Albanian immigrants are the “focus” of London’s migration policy. In this context, it can be claimed that the London administration, which is struggling with economic problems, is trying to divert attention from Albanian immigrants to another point. Furthermore, the Sunak government has been under intense pressure from Conservative MPs in the face of this problem. Recently, the development of the migration phenomenon in the UK through Albanians has led to reactions within the party. It is possible to evaluate Sunak’s plan for Albanian immigrants within this framework.

In this context, Sunak announced on 13 December 2022 his five-point plan for the deportation of Albanian migrants by the end of 2023. According to the plan, a special unit of 400 specialists will be established to process requests from Albanians. In addition, British border guards are planned to be deployed in Albania under a new agreement with Tirana.[5]

When the five-point plan was examined, it was stated that a new, unified small-ship command would be created first, which would include the military, civilian forces, and intelligence. Second, irregular migrants will be prohibited from opening bank accounts. Third, refugees will no longer be housed in hotels, but in dormitories and military warehouses. Fourth, asylum workers will be made to understand that Albania is a safe country.  Finally, at the beginning of 2023, London will introduce legislation to guarantee that people who come to the UK illegally will not be able to seek asylum in the country.[6]

As can be seen, the fact that Albanian migrants are the largest community entering the UK by 2022 has led London to take special measures. The plan of the Sunak is also a reflection of this. Moreover, Sunak’s plan is likely to further increase the tension between the parties.

In conclusion, it can be said that the relations between Britain and Albania may be further strained in the context of “migration.” The London administration should not be expected to change its harsh stance towards irregular migrants in general and Albanian migrants. Given all these considerations, it can be foreseen that London will aim to reduce the number of Albanian migrants entering the country through the Channel to a minimum.

[1] Flora Thompson, “Majority of Migrants Crossing Channel are Albanian-Reports”, The Independent,, (Date of Accession:19.12.2022).

[2] “UK Minister Under Fire for Calling Migrants an Invasion”, Associated Press,, (Date of Accession:19.12.2022).

[3] “Albania’s PM Says Britain is Becoming a ‘Madhouse’ as the country’s Prince Leka Brands MPs ‘Purely Xenophobic’ After Suella Braverman Blamed Albanians for Rise in Number of Migrant Channel Crossings”, Daily Mail,, (Date of Accession:19.12.2022).

[4] “Albanians Should be Banned from Claiming Asylum in Britain Because They Come from a ‘Demonstrably Safe Country’, Says Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, as Government Mulls New Australian-Style Border Laws”, Daily Mail,, (Date of Accession:19.12.2022).

[5] Giada Kuka, “Sunak Promises The Expulsion of Albanian Migrants, Reveals 5-Point Plan”, Euronews,, (Date of Accession:19.12.2022).

[6] Ibid.

Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege Özkan, 2019 yılında Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Tarih Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2022 senesinde aynı üniversitenin Türk İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Anabilim Dalı’nda hazırladığı “Türk Siyasi Hayatında Selim Rauf Sarper ve Faaliyetleri” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Hâlihazırda aynı enstitüde doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. 2020-2021 yılları arasında Türk Tarih Kurumu Yüksek Lisans Bursiyeri olan Özkan, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.