Belfast Telegraph

Boris Johnson can 'win back trust' of unionists by building bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland, claims Sammy Wilson

DUP MP for East Antrim Sammy Wilson (Liam McBurney/PA)
DUP MP for East Antrim Sammy Wilson (Liam McBurney/PA)
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

Boris Johnson can "win back the trust" of unionists by building a bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland, the DUP's Sammy Wilson has said.

Mr Wilson, who was re-elected as the MP for East Antrim on Friday, said building a 20-mile link between Larne and Stranraer would forge a "physical and economic link" within the Union.

Mr Johnson is understood to have wanted to find out how the project, which would cost around £15 billion, could be funded.

Critics have hit out at the cost of the bridge and spoken of the risks of World War Two munitions still in the Irish Sea.

Strong results for nationalist parties in Northern Ireland and the SNP in Scotland in the general election have driven speculation that the Prime Minister will come under pressure to allow independence referendums in both regions.

Mr Wilson, speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, said: "I think one of the big themes of this parliament will be how you protect the union of the United Kingdom and I think Boris cannot ignore the threat to the Union that comes not just from Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland but also from Scotland.

"He has got to take more seriously the role he has as Prime Minister in selling the advantages of the Union, taking steps to strengthen the Union and ensure that there is growth not just in the north of England but in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's was proposed to build a bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland. Graphic: Raymond Estaban
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's was proposed to build a bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland. Graphic: Raymond Estaban

Mr Wilson cited a DUP manifesto pledge to build the bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland as a way to bring the Union closer together.

"This idea that parts of the UK are being governed by remote control by English southern men and women, it's one of the driving factors of nationalism," the DUP MP said.

"We would love to talk to him about the things he can do to make sure that a sense of isolation is not engendered."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, speaking in October, said Mr Johnson was "genuinely interested" in building the bridge.

“I know people dismiss it, but I don’t. It needs to be looked at. It needs to be at least examined," he said.

“I’ve seen what the Chinese have got… 100km-long bridges. I don’t know if it is viable but I also don’t think it should be dismissed out of hand and I know he is particularly excited about that one.”

Relations between the DUP and Mr Johnson have become strained over his Brexit deal which would effectively put a border down the Irish sea.

Unionists have said the deal would create a "economic united Ireland" and will led to a border poll on Irish unity.

The DUP has lost its influence in Parliament after Mr Johnson secured an 80 seat majority on Friday.

The party is also reeling after deputy leader Nigel Dodds was unseated by Sinn Fein's John Finucane in North Belfast while the SDLP defeated Emma Little-Pengelly in South Belfast.

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