– A negative framing of immigrants to stir populist sentiment is a widespread tactic repeatedly deployed by the British press. Following the accession of ten new and predominantly Eastern European member‐states to the European Union in 2004, this gambit was again utilised to provocatively portray migrant workers newly arriving in the United Kingdom as an external economic threat. The aim of this paper was to uncover the recurrent ways in which Polish migrants were emotively framed by the top daily British newspapers during this period of EU enlargement.
– A bespoke collection of newspaper articles was assembled and examined using a corpus‐based discourse analysis. The analysis was subsequently triangulated with relevant responses to a series of public opinion surveys.
– Results show that the British press conformed to classic media representations of migrants when referring to Poles in particular, by depicting them as an external economic threat “flooding” the country; in addition a novel stereotype of the “Polish plumber” was used to present them arriving to take the jobs of native manual labourers.
– The study adds to the understanding of media attitudes towards new migrants in the UK, and demonstrates the utility of triangulated corpus‐based discourse analysis for those who seek to highlight systematic characterisations of migrants in the popular press.