Boris Johnson has told a group of schoolchildren about his “very good” idea for a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Speaking to children during his visit to the ship NLV Pharos on the Thames, the Prime Minister said he had recently discussed the possibility of constructing a bridge over the Irish Sea.
He said: “[I was talking yesterday] about building a bridge from Stranraer in Scotland to Larne in Northern Ireland – that would be very good. It would only cost about £15bn.”
Johnson first put forward the idea last year, when he was foreign secretary. He told the Sunday Times last year: “What we need to do is build a bridge between our islands. Why don’t we? Why don’t we?”
But since becoming Prime Minister he has asked Treasury and the Department for Transport for advice on costs and risks related to the project, Channel 4 revealed earlier this week.
A government spokesperson told the broadcaster: “This PM has made no secret of his support for infrastructure projects that increase connectivity for people and particularly those that strengthen the Union.”
But the idea has been laughed at by senior sources behind closed doors.
Noting that it was a good way to “demonstrate they’re not abandoning Northern Ireland”, one government insider told City A.M.: “If Boris is going to be the shortest-ever [serving] Prime Minister he needs something named after him.”
Johnson is no stranger to ambitious infrastructure projects. As Mayor of London he backed the Garden Bridge, which never saw the light of day despite costing an estimated £53m.
He also threw his weight behind Boris Island, a Thames Estuary airport.
Last year he even suggested a bridge between England and France might serve as a way to maintain close relations after Brexit.
A 22-mile bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland would not be impossible – the longest bridge in the world, the Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge in China, is over 102 miles long.
But trade expert and senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform think tank Sam Lowe told City A.M. it was unlikely to solve any Brexit-related issues.
“It remains unclear why putting a customs border in the middle of a bridge running over the Irish Sea is more palatable to the DUP than a customs border in it,” he said.
Main image: Getty