Suella Braverman’s language on Albanian asylum seekers is “exacerbating” an already dangerous situation, a veteran Tory MP has warned.
Sir Roger Gale condemned rhetoric used by the Home Secretary, who has frequently singled out Albanians after their numbers crossing the Channel in small boats spiralled.
It comes as Ms Braverman met European counterparts in Brussels to discuss how to tackle the migrant crisis.
Sir Roger’s comments followed the Albanian ambassador to the UK Qirjako Qirko telling MPs that children from his country were being bullied in UK schools due to a “campaign of discrimination”.
Ms Braverman last month came under fire for claiming there was an “invasion” of England by migrants crossing the Channel.
She said the UK had seen a “surge in the number of Albanian arrivals” and agreed with a Tory backbencher who brought up “Albanian criminals”, in comments that drew criticism from Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
Sir Roger, whose North Thanet constituency covers the Manston migrant processing facility, was asked whether the Home Secretary should temper her language.
He told Sky News: “Well, I don’t think that bullying is acceptable by anybody in any place at any time.
“And if Albanian kids are being bullied in school, then that is highly undesirable and reprehensible.
“And I’m afraid that some of the language that has been used by the Home Secretary and others is exacerbating what is already a clearly very fragile and dangerous situation.
“So do I condemn it? Yes, most certainly I do.”
Cabinet minister Gillian Keegan said she was not aware of the reports of Albanian youngsters bullied in schools.
Asked about the Albanian ambassador’s remarks, the Education Secretary said: “I hadn’t heard that report, but I will look back in the department and see if we’ve had any reports of that.
“But bullying is wrong anyway for anybody.”
Mr Qirko on Wednesday told MPs his government has “no information” about an increase in people from the Balkan state making the journey to the UK and insisted Albania is a “safe country”.
Albanians accounted for just over a third of Channel crossings in the first nine months of the year, figures published by the Home Office last month showed.
The Government is reportedly reviewing plans to fast-track the removal of asylum seekers from designated “safe” countries, a list that would include Albania.
On Thursday Ms Braverman joined interior ministers from France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands at a meeting of the so-called “Calais group” of neighbouring countries, marking “renewed efforts to step up co-operation” to crack down on Channel crossings and bring people smugglers to justice, the Home Office said.
Ms Braverman said: “Countries across Europe must work closely together to tackle illegal migration and crack down on the people smugglers before these issues reach our borders”, adding that the group has held “constructive discussions today on bringing solutions that will benefit all our countries and to ensure the evil criminals who profit in human misery are targeted and brought swiftly to justice. I look forward to our ongoing cooperation.”
At the meeting it was agreed the UK will work with Frontex, Europe’s border and coastguard agency, at the continent’s borders in a bid to “contain illegal migration” and cut down on the flow of migrants “at source”.
“Frontex has a particular focus on tackling migration from Western Balkans countries,” the Home Office said.
Ministers also agreed to bolster work at the joint intelligence cell in Calais so teams can “better identify and respond to criminal networks”.
Meanwhile French officers joined British staff in Dover for training ahead of plans for UK officers to observe operations and be stationed in control rooms in France for the first time.