Albanians seeking to reach the UK should not be granted asylum unless there is an “extremely individual and particular reason”, a Cabinet minister has said.
Chris Grayling urged the authorities to be “very vigorous” about applications from Albania as Downing Street said all asylum claims would be treated according to the rules.
His comments came as Downing Street indicated that migrants are attempting to cross the Channel in boats because of improved security measures at the tunnel and ferry port in Calais.
On Saturday, 18 Albanians had to be rescued from an inflatable boat after it sank off the Kent coast, and immigration union officials have warned Britain’s coast is facing one of its greatest ever breaches from small boats and dinghies carrying migrants.
Number 10 said additional vessels aimed at protecting the coastline would become operational in the coming months, but full deployment of the new boats will not take place until the end of next year.
A Downing Street spokesman said the increased security at Calais had led some migrants to attempt to use “more dangerous routes” to reach the UK.
“We take every necessary action to protect our border security and will continue to do so,” the spokesman said.
“The important thing is that our approach is intelligence-based. So we have worked with the French government at Calais to secure the border there and since we put security measures in place we have seen a small number of migrants trying to use more dangerous routes to get to the UK.”
Number 10 said all asylum applications made by people reaching the UK will be “processed according to the rules” and “the important thing is that we stop people attempting to use this route”.
But Commons Leader Mr Grayling, who is campaigning for Brexit in the June 23 referendum, said Albanians should be treated as economic migrants because their country is pushing to join the European Union.
Answering questions after a Westminster speech, he said: ““Albania is a candidate country of the European Union and unless there is an extremely individual and particular reason for granting asylum for someone from Albania then I would want to have an asylum system that treated those people as economic migrants.”