Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused the UK Government of ‘empty rhetoric’ as plans for Boris Johnson’s tunnel between Portpatrick and Larne have been axed.

The 25-mile tunnel running under the Irish Sea had an estimated price tag of £20bn.

However, an unnamed government official with knowledge of Treasury spending negotiations has told the Financial Times the plans are “dead, at least for now”.

The decision comes as the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, conducts a spending review before presenting an autumn budget on 27 October.

Colin Smyth said: “First we had Boris’ bonkers plan for a post-brexit bridge between Portpatrick and Larne. This was eventually booted out, presumably after someone in the UK Government realised that we don’t have a Mediterranean climate in the Irish sea and any bridge would have been closed for half of the year, not to mention the small issue of millions of tonnes of explosives lying in the path of any bridge structure.

“Then earlier this year we had the equally unrealistic and unlikely plans for a tunnel.

“If these latest reports are accurate, absolutely no one will be surprised it’s been axed and I think the Government claiming it’s because of Treasury cuts is just a convenient excuse to bury a bad plan.

“Boris’s tunnel plan was utterly delusional from the start and it’s embarrassing that local Tory MPs and MSPs went along with the idea for so long. It’s yet another example of empty rhetoric from the UK Government.

“Hopefully we can now move on and get some answers from both the Scottish and UK Governments over investment in the A75 and A77.

“As I said from the start, if the UK Government has billions of pounds to spend on transport links in the south west of Scotland, it would do better to spend the cash on reopening the Dumfries to Stranraer rail line and dualling the A75 and A77.

“Despite the importance of Cairnryan Ferry Port, road and rail links have been neglected again and again. Talk of building a bridge or a tunnel might grab headlines but people who live in the area and those who use the ferries on a regular basis need real solutions now to the many transport problems which have existed for years.”

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