Irish Prime Minister (PM), Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, is willing to work with the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, for the construction of the bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland with a condition that Johnson bares its cost. As per a 2007 report by the Centre for Cross Border Studies, the cost for building the bridge from Dumfries and Galloway to Ulster was estimated at around £3.5 billion. This estimation has now risen and Johnson told this week, “It would only cost about £15 billion.”
UK Prime Minister to Pay All Costs
The anticipated bridge has two options, one potential route that includes Portpatrick to Belfast Lough link that would be around 21 miles in length and another is from Antrim to Mull of Kintyre that would be just 12 miles. Unlike Johnson’s estimation, a media reported, the construction cost would be around £10 billion.”
Varadkar stated on December 26, 2019, that he would work with Johnson only on one condition that the UK must pay for it. This indicated that Varadkar’s refusal to share the cost of the building would be a huge setback for Johnson’s economic aims for his post-Brexit plan.
The Irish PM had a discussion with Johnson about the proposed plans for the bridge last week. Varadkar told Johnson that it was ‘worth examining’ and Johnson replied, describing it as a good idea. However, Varadkar told that Northern Ireland, Scotland, or even the EU would not be paying the costs despite Johnson’s claims that the European bloc would contribute.
In response to a question, Varadkar claimed that the EU would not be going to pay for it. He commented, “So that’s definitely not going to happen, because neither Northern Ireland nor Scotland is going to be in the EU.”
Responses Over the Bridge and Other Projects
The UK leader and the Democratic Unionist Party have spoken in favor of the construction of the bridge and supported the idea to keep the union together after Brexit. Last week, during a Queen’s Speech debate in the House of Commons, Johnson described the proposed bridge as a “very interesting idea” and added the comment, “Watch this space.”
Other Irish parties found the idea less enthusiastic and prioritized on the issues of the country’s infrastructures. Steve Aiken, the Ulster Unionist Party leader, asserted that the UK’s investment was urgently needed for the development of Northern Ireland’s infrastructure first.
Varadkar responded, “I know people dismiss these things out of hand, but they used to dismiss the Channel Tunnel as well – the idea of building a tunnel between France and Britain – and I know what I see when I see a bridge-tunnel between Denmark and Sweden, when you fly over New Orleans and you see 110 miles of bridge, it’s extraordinary. I think we need to at least check out is this viable in engineering terms and how much money it would cost to do.”
However, Varadkar showed his willingness to work with Johnson about other projects such as a high-speed rail link connecting Dublin, Belfast, and Cork, and better connections to the north-west. He also had interested in a cross-border university, involving the Ulster University campus at Magee in Derry with Letterkenny IT, besides the certain projects including the greenway projects and the Ulster Canal.
Varadkar stated, “There are actually loads of really good projects we could do together that might not cost as much and would definitely be more feasible than a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland. But in my pursuit of those ones I’m not going to dismiss the one that the Prime Minister’s particularly keen on.”
I’m Roshan, a journalist, blogger and music lover. I like covering global news related to finance, business, and technology. Focusing on the collection of true and reliable information, I rely on working by conducting interviews with business leaders and talking to the inside sources of companies.
You can reach out to me at: [email protected]