Ministers 'order study' of Boris Johnson's Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge plan

Posted On: 
11th September 2019

Officials are actively studying Boris Johnson's plan for a new bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland, it has emerged.

The SNP's Hannah Bardell said she would not trust Mr Johnson 'to build a Lego bridge'.

The Prime Minister last year threw his weight behind proposals for a £15bn link between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, with sources close to the then-Foreign Secretary saying it was "the kind of ambitious project we need to make a success of Global Britain".

Documents obtained by Channel 4 News show that both the Treasury and Department for Transport have now been asked to look into the costs and risks of such a bridge.

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According to the broadcaster, the DfT has drawn up a “factual paper on the subject” following conversations between the DUP and former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

The Prime Minister reportedly wants to find out where the money for the project could come from, as well as "the risks around the project" – which apparently include "WW2 munitions in the Irish Sea".

Mr Johnson has previously called for a similar bridge to be built across the English Channel in a bid to bring France and England closer together after Brexit.

A Government spokesperson said: "Government regularly commissions work to examine the feasibility of projects. During the leadership campaign candidates spoke about a number of issues which resulted in Number 10 commissions ahead of a new Prime Minister taking over. 

"This PM has made no secret of his support for infrastructure projects that increase connectivity for people and particularly those that strengthen the Union."

A new link between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain has previously been talked up by the DUP as a way of potentially breaking the Brexit impasse over the backstop.

But the Scottish National Party MP Hannah Bardell said of Mr Johnson's plan: "I wouldn't frankly trust him to build a Lego bridge."

She added: "This project has merits and is worth consideration and we will always look, in Scotland, as to how we can build relationships with other countries and of course Ireland.

"But it is very important that any project doesn't get caught up in the catastrophic brand that Boris has... It seems somewhat ironic that this a prime minister talking about building bridges when all he can do is burn them."