Boris Johnson buries dream of tunnel across Irish Sea

Boris Johnson buries his dream of tunnel across Irish Sea after Rishi Sunak ruled it was too expensive

  • Boris Johnson first proposed a bridge to Northern Ireland three years ago
  • Ex aide Dominic Cummings later said the PM was obsessed with building ‘the world’s most stupid tunnel’
  • But idea will not be included in forthcoming plans to improve infrastructure
  • Treasury were concerned the £20billion project would prove a white elephant

Plans for a tunnel to Northern Ireland have been shelved by Boris Johnson after Chancellor Rishi Sunak ruled it was too expensive.

The Prime Minister has spoken repeatedly of his dream of a bridge or tunnel linking the province to the rest of the UK.

But speaking to reporters while in the United States, he said it would not be included in forthcoming plans to improve Britain’s creaking infrastructure.

‘Although it remains an ambition it is perhaps not the most immediate [priority]. It will be delivered substantially after the rest of the programme,’ he said.

Plans for a tunnel to Northern Ireland have been shelved by Boris Johnson after Chancellor Rishi Sunak ruled it was too expensive 

But speaking to reporters while in the United States, he said it would not be included in forthcoming plans to improve Britain’s creaking infrastructure

The move reflects Treasury concern that the £20billion project would prove to be a white elephant. The PM also refused to say whether the Eastern leg of the HS2 rail project would go ahead.

The Mail reported in July that the plan to link Birmingham with Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds is set to be shelved indefinitely.

The Treasury is eyeing potential savings of up to £40billion. But it is a blow to the PM’s vision of a network of infrastructure projects that would bind the UK closer together.

Mr Johnson first proposed a bridge to Northern Ireland three years ago, but it was dismissed by many experts who warned that building the 20-mile link from Scotland would be a huge logistical challenge.

After leaving No 10, the PM’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings said Mr Johnson was obsessed with the idea of building ‘the world’s most stupid tunnel’.

The initial idea of a bridge was abandoned because of concerns that strong winds in the Irish Sea would require frequent closures.

In places the route would have crossed water more than 1,000ft deep, requiring the largest support towers ever built. But officials continued to examine the case for a tunnel link.

The project was being considered by a transport connectivity review led by Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy. Two engineering professors were also commissioned to lead a feasibility study into a bridge or tunnel.

The High-Speed Rail Group of rail leaders proposed tunnelling under the Irish Sea between Stranraer and Larne in a submission to the Hendy review.

Mr Johnson insisted the upcoming infrastructure review would be ‘wonderful news’ for all UK areas.

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