Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

A senior Tory MP has mocked Boris Johnson’s plans for a 25-mile undersea tunnel connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland, and urged ministers to pay attention to the complexities of the Brexit deal instead.

Nicknamed the ‘Boris Burrow’, the tunnel is expected to cost £10 billion to build, and is seen as an alternative to a bridge, which could link the two countries between Stranraer in Scotland and Larne in Northern Ireland.

Proposals for the tunnel could be approved in just a few weeks according to The Telegraph, with the infrastructure similar to the Channel tunnel - which incidentally took thirty years to build.

It’s thought it could help unblock trade which has been hit by Brexit tensions, by creating the first ever fixed link between all four nations of the United Kingdom.

However, the Tory MP in charge of the Northern Ireland select committee, has ridiculed the plans.

Simon Hoare tweeted: “The trains could be pulled by an inexhaustible herd of Unicorns overseen by stern, officious dodos.

“A PushmePullYou could be the senior guard and Puff the Magic Dragon the inspector.

“Let’s concentrate on making the protocol work and put the hallucinogenics down”.

He added: “Also another ‘’minor hurdle’’ is the NI railway gauge is an ‘’all Ireland’’ gauge which is different to that used in GB. I’m not Brunel but I think this might be a bit of a problem.”

In response, one Twitter user replied: “I don’t understand why so many people don’t spot that this is basically the same con as the Garden Bridge - a big infrastructure project that you don’t need to build to milk money from the state to give to your friends in “consultancy”

Another added: “Such honestly and realism is refreshing from a Tory politician, especially where NI/Brexit/border/NIP is concerned!”

In 2018, an engineer disregarded Johnson’s plans for a bridge, as there are Second World War munition dumps at Beautfort’s Dyke, under the area the prime minister intends to build the infrastructure.

Likewise, the stretch of sea is occupied by nuclear submarines from the Royal Navy base at Faslane.

Last year, the Fraser of Allander Institute - an economic think tank, based at the University of Strathclyde - said the idea would not even feature in the top 10 infrastructure priorities, and was dismissive of any connection between the two countries.

In a blog post, the think tank said: “Firstly, those hoping that building a bridge (tunnel or giant catapult even) will automatically be a catalyst for faster economic growth in both Scotland and Northern Ireland will be sorely disappointed.”

The economics experts said there was “little international evidence” to back up the idea of a causal positive link between infrastructure and growth, adding: “Build it and they will come is sadly not the case.”

While they said “well-designed and targeted investment that helps to unblock barriers to connectivity can have an impact on growth”, the post went on to add: “On a list of top 10 infrastructure priorities in Scotland (and the UK), this won’t be one of them.”

However, there is still support from the DUP, with Sammy Wilson claiming: “This kind of project would at least give people in Northern Ireland the belief that the government was prepared to put in infrastructure and spend money to make sure that we are physically connected.”

Downing Street said a review, led by Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy, will explore the “cost, practicality and demand” for a fixed link.

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