More than 8,000 illegal Albanian migrants have been returned to the country since the end of last year, according to Rishi Sunak.

The prime minister was speaking from a Council of Europe summit in Iceland, where he was discussing migration and the war in Ukraine with other European leaders.

He said cooperation with France has been “stepped up” to try to stop small boats crossing the Channel.

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He added: “We have another deal with Albania, where we’ve now sent over 8,000 illegal migrants from Albania back to Albania as a result of the new deal that I concluded at the end of last year.

“That’s already working, and I’ll be having further conversations like that with other European partners today to strengthen our cooperation.”

This would mark a significant step up from the previous numbers of people returned to Albania.

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According to Home Office data, between Q4 of 2020 and Q3 of 2022, 2,148 people were returned to the country.

And a statement from the Home Office last month just said that “over 1,000 nationals have been returned to Albania” since the agreement of the communique last year.

The number of Albanian people entering the UK illegally has also risen sharply in that time.

Mr Sunak was planning to use the summit in Reykjavik to call for reform to the way in which the European Court of Human Rights can stop countries from deporting people.

In particular, he was taking aim at the court’s rule 39, which was used to stop the government’s first – and so far only – attempt to deport people to Rwanda for the processing of their asylum claims.

Mr Sunak said the court has “embarked” on a review of the processes itself already.

He said: “We want to make sure that the European court is always conducting itself in a way which is fair, which is effective, which is transparent.

“And that’s the type of conversation I’ll be having with the European Court president today.”