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Dua Lipa challenges Tory ministers over ‘small-minded’ attacks on Albanian migrants

Pop star Dua Lipa has said that the language used to discuss Albanian migrants is “short-sighted and small-minded”.

The singer, born in London to Kosovar-Albanian parents, said it was hurtful to hear ministers including Home Secretary Suella Braverman refer to “Albanian criminals” amid a push to stop small boats from crossing the Channel.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, she said: “Of course it hurt. All those words thrown around about immigrants? I always felt London was an amalgamation of cultures.

“It is integral to the city. So when you hear the government talk about Albanians, for example, it hurts. It’s short-sighted and small-minded, but it’s the way a lot of people think.

“No matter how we try and change the rhetoric, there will always be those who think, ‘Immigrants are coming into the country and taking jobs!’

“However, immigrants who have come here have earned their keep by working incredibly hard. There needs to be more empathy, because people don’t leave their country unless they have to out of necessity, out of fear for their family.”

Around 16,000 Albanian citizens applied for asylum in the UK last year, making up around 16 per cent of all asylum applicants

The Government announced a five-point plan in December to tackle “illegal” migration which included expedited returns for people arriving from Albania – which officials deem a safe country.

But on Sunday, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick admitted that only “hundreds” of Albanians have been returned under the scheme so far.

He said: “There are hundreds of Albanians who’ve arrived on small boats who have been placed on those flights as a result of the processes we put in place and the agreements that we’ve reached with Albania.

“The reason that we are returning Albanians is to deter people from coming in the first place, and that is succeeding.”

Pressed on why only hundreds had been removed under the scheme, he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “It’s relatively early days. Some of them are being accommodated, some have returned home voluntarily, and some may well have absconded. That is absolutely the reason we are taking this action.”

Albanian officials have also previously challenged the rhetoric used by officials. The nation’s prime minister Edi Rama said in March: “Unfortunately, we have seen ourselves and our community being singled out in this country for purposes of politics. It has been a very, very disgraceful moment for British politics.

“What has been [said] by members of the cabinet, starting with the home secretary, [is] the singling out of our community, which is not something you do in our civilisation, and is something that does not represent Britain at all.

“We will always refuse to have this mix between some criminals and the Albanians as such because giving to the crime an ethnic seal is itself a crime.”

During a meeting with Rishi Sunak in No 10 in March, Mr Rama cited Lipa as an example of the positives that Albanians bring to Britain.

“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,” he said.

Lipa’s parents left Kosovo in around 1992, as the tensions that led to the war that started six years later began to surface.

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