Boris Johnson is ‘serious’ about Scotland to Northern Ireland bridge, says ex comms chief
Boris Johnson is “serious” about building a tunnel or bridge linking Scotland and Northern Ireland, according to his former comms chief.
Welsh broadcaster Guto Harri, who was Johnson’s communications director when he was London mayor, said it was part of the UK Prime Minister’s plan to “maintain the Union”.
He made the comments during an interview for Boris’s Tunnel Vision – a documentary co-produced by BBC Radio Ulster and Radio Scotland.
According to former Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, the project could cost a staggering £33 billion if it goes ahead.
Another former Boris Johnson aide, Dominic Cummings once described the plans as “the world’s most stupid tunnel to Ireland”.
The proposed plan for the bridge would put the structure between Portpatrick in Wigtownshire, Scotland, and Larne in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
While there are only 12 miles between Scotland and Ireland at the closest point, in the stretch of water that is being considered there are thousands of tonnes of World War Two munitions.
They were dumped in the Beaufort Dyke, a deep trench which runs down the middle of the Irish Sea. There is also radioactive waste in the area.
But Harri told the BBC that Johnson has “serious intent”, and that the idea shouldn’t be dismissed entirely.
He said: “He wants to maintain the Union and he wants to persuade the rest of the world that we’re still big players and can build big things – and what would be bigger than a tunnel under the Irish Sea, linking Scotland and Northern Ireland?”
‘Third London Airport’
He also remembers how enthusiastic Johnson was about a proposal to build a third London Airport in the Thames Estuary.
“I remember him ringing up a Tory MP in the House of Commons and singing Dolly Parton’s ‘Islands in the Stream. that is what we are’ down the phone to him,” he said.
“He made it look as if it was a joke, but he was very serious.”
According to Harri, in the end, a lack of finance and authority forced Johnson to abandon his floating airport project.
Johnson has asked Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, to include the idea of a fixed link in the Irish Sea in his major review of the UK’s road, rail and air infrastructure. The review is set to be published in the next few weeks.