Will Boris Johnson’s ‘bridge over troubled waters’ between Northern Ireland and Scotland ever be built? | Politics News

They are talking about the bridge again. Yes, that bridge. The imaginary one between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis MP told Sky’s Kay [email protected] it would benefit connectivity and the economy.

“Big infrastructure projects throughout history have sometimes been controversial, difficult, but they’re the right thing to do,” he said.

Some call the project backed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson “the unicorn bridge”. Others refer to it as “the bridge over troubled water” and for good reason.

It is troubled by the Brexit reality of a border in the Irish Sea – between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK – despite repeated government denials.

Boris Johnson, pictured here wearing a mask in London, has played down the prospect of a second national lockdown
Boris Johnson said the bridge would cost £15bn

A command paper on the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol has confirmed that there will be checks on some goods.

Sammy Wilson MP, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, claimed the Port of Larne in County Antrim had been instructed to prepare for Brexit-related checks.

Critics suggest the government is continually building this fantasy bridge to shift the focus from the customs post that is being built.

LARNE, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 14: Port officers inspect vehicles at a harbour checkpoint on November 14, 2018 in Larne, Northern Ireland. Prime Minister Theresa May is locked in talks with her cabinet as she attempts to push through an agreement between UK negotiators and their European Union counterparts relating to the United Kingdom's departure from the EU. The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has been a contentious issue during the Brexit talks. The harbour port of Larne has been suggested as a possible border entry checkpoint for agriculture livestock and goods to avoid a so called 'hard border'. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
An MP says the Port of Larne has been told to prepare for Brexit checks

When Theresa May lost her Commons majority in 2017, she sent her people to ask the Democratic Unionists for their support.

Legend has it that one prominent DUP MP joked that the price of their votes would be a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A DUP source, who had been in the room, told me “the blood drained from their faces because they thought we were serious”.

Northern Ireland’s first minister is more supportive than her Scottish counterpart

Since then, the project has been resurrected every time the government needs to steady Unionist nerves in this corner of the UK.

There are many reasons why every mention of “the bridge” is met with a collective eye-roll, even by those who long for closer ties with the UK.

The most direct route – 28 miles – includes Beaufort Dyke, a trench containing more than a million tonnes of unexploded munitions, plus nuclear waste.

James Duncan, a retired offshore engineer from Edinburgh, said it was comparable to “building a bridge to the moon”.

He said: “It would require about 30 support towers at least 1,400 ft high to carry the road deck across the deepest part and above the shipping channel.

EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 18: The Queen Elizabeth 2 anchors alongside the Forth bridges September 18, 2007 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The QE2 will be delivered to Dubai in November 2008, where it will cease its role as an ocean-going passenger vessel, to be refurbished to create a luxury floating hotel. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
High winds sometimes close the Forth Road Bridge

If the Forth Road Bridge in Edinburgh and Foyle Bridge in Londonderry are any guide, high winds would close this sea bridge on an almost daily basis.

Then there is the cost – estimated at a cool £15bn. That’s 15 times the amount the Tories paid for the DUP’s support back in 2017.

It would be fair to say Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster has expressed more enthusiasm for the project than her Scottish counterpart Nicola Sturgeon.

It was 1869 when Irish engineer Luke Livingston Macassey first proposed a bridge between the two countries.

One hundred and fifty years later, there is still no bridge in the Irish Sea but there is every reason to believe there will soon be a customs post there.

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