Boris Johnson’s “vanity project” bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland would be a waste of money, ministers on both sides of the Irish Sea have said.
Johnson has said work is underway to establish the feasibility of a road crossing between Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway and Larne in Co Antrim.
The devolved administrations said the estimated £20bn cost should fund vital projects in both countries instead and expressed anger that they had not been consulted.
Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “I strongly believe that if £20bn is available for investment in infrastructure in Scotland and Northern Ireland that, rather than indulging the Prime Minister with this vanity project, such funding should be made available to our respective governments so it could be better spent on meeting the priorities of the people we represent.”
Downing Street said a “range of officials” were looking at the idea, but was unable to say how many civil servants were examining proposals.
Johnson’s official spokesman said it was a “proper piece of work” and he was “ambitious” about infrastructure projects across the country.
Johnson has repeatedly spoken about the prospect of a bridge, even though experts have warned that the depth of the Irish Sea and the presence of dumped munitions would cause problems for any project.
Stormont infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon said: “I am extremely concerned that pursuit of this project, costing £20bn, will be a waste of significant money and resource that could be put to better use by addressing pressures and deliverable projects here in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.
“By spending just a fraction of the reported cost of this bridge, I am of the view that we could bring significantly more benefits to people across the north by investing in infrastructure here and making a real difference to improving the lives of citizens across Northern Ireland.”
The distance from Larne to Portpatrick, one of the most likely routes for a bridge, is around 28 miles (45km).
Johnson has failed to acknowledge the problem with distance, money or the Beaufort’s Dyke explosives disposal area.
An engineer has suggested the span could be ready within 15 years.
In a letter to UK transport secretary Grant Shapps, Matheson called for urgent talks with the UK Government.
He wrote: “Given transport is devolved to both the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive, I look forward to hearing from you on the availability of the £20bn to us, and to assurances that in future any such proposals will be discussed with us first and will fully respect the devolved settlements and the role of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament.”
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?