Back in February 2020 there was a discussion in the House of Commons on the theme of Transport Infrastructure. One of the elements that was included was the reaction to the call from Boris Johnson for a 20 mile bridge or tunnel to link Scotland to Northern Ireland. He had introduced the idea after the General Election at the end of 2019 as a way of his reputation of being remembered for many years. A few days ago this magazine report emerged reporting that the assessment for the link between the two locations would not cost the £20bn that Johnson claimed would be the case, but that it would cost at least £335bn and as a consequence of the cost and indeed the challenges for the work to achieve it, that the plan will be scrapped. The research has cost £896,681 and so the £20bn that Johnson had planned to spend on the bridge is now down by nearly £1m but presumably he can re-use most of the £20bn for alternatives. During the debate on the 11th February 2020 several people raised the subject.
Jeremy Corbyn: The Prime Minister is clearly fond of announcing big shiny projects, such as the scheme to build a bridge over the Irish sea. Why not go the whole hog and make it a garden bridge, connected to an airport in the sea?
Ian Blackford (SNP): Finally, on the bridge, this is a Prime Minister who could not even build a bridge across the Thames, so he will therefore have to forgive those of us who are sceptical that he can build one over the 20-mile expanse of the North sea. Will the Prime Minister therefore provide the estimated £20 billion for this project to the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive so they can spend those moneys on their own priorities?
Boris Johnson: I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we will of course collaborate with the Scottish Government on projects that will be of massive benefit for the whole of our United Kingdom…. As for his plan to build a bridge across the North sea, I think he needs to look at the geography of the United Kingdom again.
Alison Thewliss (SNP): The Scottish environmental journalist Rob Edwards has warned since 1995 about the munitions dumps by the Ministry of Defence in Beaufort’s Dyke, the deepest point in the north channel of the Irish sea, and the exact route of the Prime Minister’s latest fantasy bridge. Will the Prime Minister abandon the project and give the money to the Northern Irish and Scottish Governments directly so that we can invest in priorities for Scotland and Northern Ireland, rather than his fantasy plans?
Boris Johnson: We will bring forward proposals in due course.
More recently following the report that was finished in November, Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said:
There is a cost of living crisis and the Prime Minister blew nearly £1mn on an utterly infeasible vanity project. That’s enough to fill 18,000 potholes. This just shows the Tories’ sheer disrespect for public money.
And Mhairi Black from SNP said:
As daft as this idea was, it still promised to put £20bn of investment into the Scottish and Northern Irish economies. The Prime Minister must honour the spending commitments he made and deliver that money to Scotland and Northern Ireland so they can use it for worthwhile infrastructure proposals.
So presumably we will hear from the Government in the next few days?