Stop Braverman’s Albanophobia!


“This language isn’t only reckless, it’s deliberate, in full knowledge that it could instigate racist attacks. She showed no concern of the consequences of her language.”

Waltham Forest councillor Marsela Berberi – one of only two Albanian councillors in Britain – responds to Tory scapegoating.

In October 2022, in her statement at the House of Commons, the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman said: “…the British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast and which party is not … I am utterly serious about ending the scourge of illegal migration … I know that I speak for the decent, law-abiding, patriotic majority of British people from every background that wants safe and secure borders … adult single males from Albania … they [Labour] would allow all the Albanian criminals to come to this country.”

The Home Secretary should be reminded that crime doesn’t have an ethnicity. It is not illegal to seek asylum and that is guaranteed by the Geneva Convention of 1951. What is illegal is for the Tory government to detain people without a proper basis in law. The Home Secretary should tell the country whether she ignored the legal advice that keeping the asylum seekers at Manston detention centre for more than 24 hours could be an illegal detention and unlawful deprivation of liberty. She breached already the ministerial code in October last year which led to her resignation.

When Braverman was Attorney General for England and Wales, in 2020, she was briefed about how inflammatory speeches made by politicians could result in right wing terrorism. Yet this is exactly what she did last year when referring to asylum seekers entering the UK as an “invasion”.

Government lawyers again advised her that her inflammatory rhetoric risked encouraging far-right violence. So this language isn’t only reckless, it’s deliberate, in full knowledge that it could instigate racist attacks. She showed no concern of the consequences of her language. Her job is protecting the public as a whole, not generating hostility towards one section of it.

Braverman’s incendiary language, stereotyping Albanians as “criminals” in Parliament, is whipping up what the right-wing media has been saying for years, and playing directly into the hands of far right groups. The purpose of scapegoating Albanians, who are a relatively small group in British society, is to cover for the Tories’ failures, and is an attack upon multiculturalism and diversity.

The same xenophobic language has been used more recently by Robert Jenrick, the UK Minister for Immigration, in a video released on 13th January, of his visit to a Home Office removal centre. He says: “I have been meeting with staff who are working round the clock to find the Albanians, to detain them, to put them onto coaches, to take them to the airport, and get them to Tirana.”

One of the most positive things about British society is that people from different cultural backgrounds, including Albanians, can come with nothing and can rise as high as their talent allows. Many British Albanians are a great asset to British society contributing to British economy and society as doctors, teachers, lawyers, artists, musicians and other professions.

As a councillor of Albanian heritage, I feel extremely offended by the obvious Albanophobia of the Home Secretary. Suella Braverman should halt her hostile rhetoric and formally apologise to Albanians.

  • This article originally appeared in Labour Briefing (Co-operative) magazine and is reproduced with permission. Subscribe by sending a £20 cheque with your address to Labour Briefing Co-op, PO Box 78639, London N16 1LA
Featured image: On Wednesday 21 December, the Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee speak to Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Photo credit ukhouseoflords under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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