Sunak to announce plans to tackle asylum backlog and Channel crossings

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to announce plans to fast-track the removal of Albanian migrants as he faces pressure to clear the soaring backlog of asylum claims.

He will make an oral statement to the House of Commons at about 12.30pm on Tuesday.

Reports suggest he will set out the first steps of his strategy to deal with small boat crossings with a plan to speed up the assessment of claims from countries deemed “safe”.

Home Office figures from September showed there were more than 143,000 asylum seekers waiting for a decision on their claims, while nearly 100,000 had been waiting more than six months.

Cumulative successful arrivals in the UK by people crossing the English Channel in small boats
(PA Graphics)

The Government is under pressure to tackle the perilous unauthorised journeys across the Channel, believed to have exceeded 43,000.

Ministers have singled out Albanians as accounting for more than a third of the 33,000 migrants who crossed the Channel in the first nine months of the year.

This was a sharp increase compared with the 3% recorded in the whole of 2021.

Mr Sunak recently held his first talks with Albanian prime minister Edi Rama, during which they agreed to close “loopholes” preventing the rapid return of failed asylum seekers.

But Mr Rama has been angered by comments from Home Secretary Suella Braverman, saying she was using his citizens as scapegoats for failed immigration policies.

Mr Rama criticised her “crazy” use of language and said she was “fuelling xenophobia” after she claimed there was an “invasion” of England over the Channel.

Last month Ms Braverman admitted the Government has “failed to control our borders” as she came under pressure over the number of crossings and the conditions asylum seekers were facing after arriving in the UK.

Downing Street has declined to comment on the pending announcement.

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