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

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


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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