What makes Calais a ‘crisis’ is its impact on British business

The Tory press wants us to think like accountants rather than humans

Syrian refugees in Lebanon


An obvious but overlooked fact about right-wing press coverage of the ongoing ‘migrant crisis’ in Calais, France, is laid bare in this morning’s City AM

Namely, what makes the Calais crisis a ‘crisis’ is its impact on British business.

The actual financial impact of a few hundred people crossing the border is microscopic. But the commotion caused by poor management of migration and asylum in Calais can disrupt the flow of goods and money – as City AM makes plain today.

The business paper’s front page story, ‘Cameron under fire over crisis in Calais’, has the subheadings: ‘Chaos costing £1.5m a day in Kent’ and ‘Hauliers call for compensation’.

The story stresses the trouble caused to British business.

City AM 3 8 15

‘Services through the French port have been disrupted for weeks’, we are told, while traffic on the M20 motorway near the Kent coast is

“costing the country an estimated £1.5million in tourism revenues and consumer spending every day.”

City AM quotes the Institute of Directors (a sort of bosses’ union) saying it’s ‘nearly impossible for Kent business to function’, while the Freight Transport Association claims port delays ‘are costing the UK logistics industry £750,000 each day’.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses says 20,000 of its members ‘are being held to ransom’ by the trouble.

The story is a fine example of the money-centric nature of right-wing press coverage, evident in the constant stress on the supposed financial strain adding a few hundred people to the UK workforce would bring.

This emphasis on money takes precedence in stories like the Mail on Sunday’s shady ‘migrants in hotels’ splash yesterday, and today’s Telegraph whinge about the alleged taxi cab bill for transporting asylum seekers’ children to temporary accommodation. (Yes, really.)

Covering the story in this way encourages the reading public to view the problem as accountants, rather than humans.

In fact, the real financial impact – damage to British business – is caused by trying to keep people out, not their being able to sneak in.

What a shame the press would rather paint the story as ‘your money wasted on foreigners’ – a technique with a terrible history.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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Read more: 

Mail on Sunday’s shady ‘Calais migrants in hotels’ story is willfully misleading

Rod Liddle says send migrants back to Syria in the Sun’s shameful Calais coverage

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21 Responses to “What makes Calais a ‘crisis’ is its impact on British business”

  1. Jacko

    Adam Barnett – you’re supposed to be a journalist, aren’t you? Why don’t you go and interview businesses affected by the situation and write an informed, balanced piece rather than these trivial, partisan, sanctimonious, moralizing screeds that you seem to produce on autopilot?

    The irony of your ‘journalism’ is that you love to criticize media bias, but you are a perfect example of what you criticize. There’s no balance in anything you write. It’s complete hypocrisy. I expect you feel it’s different for you, though, because you have created a narrative for yourself as some sort of moral crusader who can dispense with best practice and ethics because you have truth and justice on your side. But guess what? That’s exactly how the people who write the pieces you criticize feel. As I said, you’re a hypocrite.

  2. TN

    Christ, Adam Barnett with yet another wet, do gooder rant, snooping around centre right papers just to have something to write about. And people wonder why the left is so unelectable in Britain.

  3. Doc Martin

    If we let all 5,000 of the people into this country and paid all of them JSA and Housing Benefit it would cost the country about £5.5M each year. Of course many are children and would not get this and I haven’t calculated taking away JSA and substituting child benefit but I guess it would cost less than £5.5M. This is a drop in the ocean to treat these people with humanity. Consider that it costs the taxpayer about £7M each year for the food and drink bill for the Houses of Parliament (you know that lot who just voted themsleves a 10% pay raise in addition to a generous expense account), the Queen got a £6.9M pay rise this year (because she’s living in poverty), rich b*sarads evade £billions in income tax every year etc. Do you really think that most of these people actually wanted to live in a civil war zone? To have their homes and livelihood destroyed? To watch their fellow citizens being killed? To live under the shadow of ISIS? All of this so that they could travel across Europe (and often pay what little money they have to traffickers) just to ‘sponge’ off us? think how desperate they must be to make the journey. consider also how ‘the west’ helped to depose Qaddafi, destabilised parts of the the Middle East in the name of ‘freedom ‘n’ democracy’ and the ‘war on terror’, how the west armed and funded the proto-ISIS (and then it turned and bit the hand that fed it). Our so-called best mate in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia – supported and recognised the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The west has had a fairly large role in what is now happening in the Middle east and North Africa so the least we can do is help the innocent civilians who are having to live with the fall-out.

  4. /O43 |_|K19!!

    For balance, the article should also include a picture of a sad-looking British trucker’s child. Sad because her daddy must stay away for days at a time sitting in a queue and face the threat of knife attack just so she can have Christmas this year.

  5. /O43 |_|K19!!

    Yeah because no more will turn up if we pay off the first five thousand. Duh.

  6. /O43 |_|K19!!

    For this and so many other reasons. It’s the return of…


  7. Philip Michael Hunt

    Why don’t raise this ‘drop in the ocean’ yourself rather than beg the taxpayer for it? Also why not send it them to use in their legitimate country of residence? It is bound to go much further than this country? Why MUST you foist your own desires of helping everyone in the world who needs it onto the common wallet, why not your dip into your own first and those who support you?

  8. Rotherhampoofta!

    “Do you really think that most of these people actually wanted to live in a civil war zone” What about the civil war zone that’ll erupt here if they keep coming?

  9. Doc Martin


  10. Doc Martin

    I’m not begging – merely pointing out that contrary to right-wing opinion there is more than enough to go round for us and asylum seekers.


  11. Doc Martin

    If we allow them to enter we can control what happens. They apply for asylum status – if it is refused they are deported. It is not just the UK – other EU countries are taking n these people. The wars in Syria and Iraq fueled by ISIS are creating a massive exodus of civilians. Millions of refugees have been accommodated in other Middle Eastern countries. The west has some responsibility for this – we rampaged through Iraq and Afghanistan with the ‘are on terror’; we supported the ‘Arab Spring’ but without any real long-term strategy for ensuring peace in the region. ISIS and other radical Islam groups moved into the political vacuum and we are seeing the results – millions of refugees. So, what is your solution?

  12. Rotherhampoofta!

    It’s coming.

  13. JoeDM

    British values and British culture in the long-term are far more important than a couple of days of lost trade

  14. Cole

    The Mail centre right? Maybe in your weird universe. For the rest of us it’s been hard right for about a century, baiting immigrants and stirring up hatred.

  15. Giles Farthing

    tell me about these British values and culture, are these the ones found in Rotherham per chance?

  16. Giles Farthing

    it would take hours to cycle to calais on an ethnic peace bicycle powered by hot air and self righteousness

  17. Philip Michael Hunt

    ‘More than enough’? So you want taxpayers who all work their backsides off the earn the money to pay taxes to give more of itt o outsoders who have no vested interest in this country because you feel sorry for them? Te fact the tax take is vast means that as much as you like can be given to illegal migrants, does it?

    Regardless, if you feel so strongly abpout it, why don’t YOU raise the monney or else take a few into YOUR home?

  18. /O43 |_|K19!!

    We’re not doing very well at deporting failed asylum seekers so far. And if we did try to take control, you and your ilk will be screaming and shouting about how it’s the next holocaust – so what you’re proposing is really a “time bomb” policy.

    We may have been foolish in our foreign policy, but these immigrants are economic migrants. The real asylum seekers found asylum long before they got to Calais.

  19. /O43 |_|K19!!

    If we opened the borders, there would be hundreds of millions of so-called “asylum seekers”.

    All we are doing by feeding and housing the ones that manage to get through is increasing inequality by rewarding the ones who are already rich and resourceful enough to make the journey, while giving no help to those who could not.

  20. Cole

    Gee, hundreds of millions of asylum seekers arriving in Dover. The mind boggles.

  21. Cole

    Rothermere? Wasn’t he the Mail boss who was chummy with Hitler and praised the Blackshirts. And, of course, went on about immigrants.

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