Ian Paisley has said he would be “very happy” to see an undersea tunnel linking Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The North Antrim DUP MP was speaking following reports that a possible tunnel could get the green light as early as March in an effort to unblock trade.
The proposal — which could be shorter than the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France — would create the first fixed link between all four nations of the United Kingdom and possibly be dubbed ‘Boris’ Burrow’, according to a weekend report in The Sunday Telegraph.
Any new connection could also appease unionists who have expressed displeasure at the way the government has allowed the European Union to impose new checks on ferry cargo heading to Northern Ireland.
A study by the chairman of Network Rail Sir Peter Hendy will say whether a link between Stranraer in Scotland and Larne in Co Antrim is workable.
Sir Peter has met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss the findings, which could recommend the government commissions a feasibility study of the project.
Mr Johnson initially floated the idea of a bridge — dubbed the Boris Bridge — but a tunnel is now seen as a cheaper and more viable option.
Yesterday Mr Paisley backed the proposed new connection between Northern Ireland and Scotland. “I think this would be very beneficial economically and a huge infrastructural opportunity to include a link, either by rail, car, or whatever,” he said.
Conservative MP Simon Hoare, who chairs the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, has blasted the tunnel idea, stating that “Puff the Magic Dragon” could be the inspector. Mr Hoare said a train in any undersea tunnel between here and Britain could be pulled by an “inexhaustible herd of unicorns overseen by stern, officious dodos”.
But Mr Paisley has criticised the opposition. He added: “An infrastructure project of these proportions would be of significant economic benefit and should not be dismissed just because it doesn’t fit in with some people’s political agenda who, on the surface, don’t want a closer economic and social union with the rest of the UK.
“It is disappointing that the chair of the select committee has immediately nailed his opinion to the mast by dismissing the project as it makes suspect any objectivity of a committee examination of the matter.”