Voters in Scotland will require "an awful lot of convincing" on Boris Johnson’s proposals to build a bridge linking Ulster and the south-west of the country, an SNP MP has said.
UK Government officials confirmed yesterday that civil servants were examining a proposal for a crossing that would connect Ulster with Wigtonshire, most likely near Portpatrick.
The plan was condemned by the SNP as an “unsubstantiated vanity project”, and the UK Government has been unable to say whether it had consulted Scottish ministers - who would be responsible for planning permissions, traffic management and any access roads.
Kirsty Blackman, the depute leader of the Nationalist group in Westminster, said today that voters would be right to be sceptical about the proposal.
"Boris Johnson has talked quite a lot about bridges in his career but to my knowledge he hasn't actually built any," she said in an interview with Sky News.
"If he wants to keep us connected with the rest of the world, if wants to make sure Scotland is on board with his proposals, actually what he should be doing is keeping us in the EU. I think that would be better in terms of links.
"We put forward loads of proposals about the best way to leave the EU... and they were all rejected out of hand. Now he wants to build this bridge, that has come from nowhere. What I'm basically saying is, we're going to require an awful lot of convincing."
Responding to the plans yesterday, Scottish Greens transport spokesman John Finnie said: “My own preference would be for a rail link rather than a road bridge, but it is very difficult to take this proposal seriously.
"Boris Johnson couldn’t even deliver his garden bridge across the Thames as London mayor, how on earth will he produce this latest vanity project? It’s a typical conceit by a Prime Minister who tends to speak before he thinks.”
Two potential routes have been touted over the years for a possible crossing. A Portpatrick to Belfast Lough link would be around 21 miles in length, while Antrim to Mull of Kintyre just 12 miles.
The latter option is routinely discounted however, as the road network from Campbeltown on the Scottish side would require significant upgrading through mountainous terrain, and lacks a direct rail service.
But any bridge or tunnel between the two countries would face other logistical challenges.
One of the biggest obstacles is Beaufort’s Dyke, a 31-mile long sea trench more than 200m deep.
It lies six miles from the Scottish coast and was used as a dumping ground for conventional and chemical munitions in the aftermath of the Second World War.