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Northern Ireland to Scotland bridge would be 'fantastic for connectivity', says Brandon Lewis

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How the bridge stretching between Northern Ireland and Scotland could look

How the bridge stretching between Northern Ireland and Scotland could look

How the bridge stretching between Northern Ireland and Scotland could look

Brandon Lewis has voiced support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans for a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland, stating it would be "fantastic for connectivity".

The Northern Ireland Secretary was speaking after it was reported that the PM is set to announce funding for a study to explore the concept during a visit to Scotland on Thursday.

During his tenure Mr Johnson has spoken out in favour of the bridge, which would span 28 miles and cost around £20bn. He previously said the project would cost an estimated £15bn.

Last month, however, it was revealed that no money had been spent on exploring the idea.

Speaking to Sky News, Brandon Lewis said the bridge would improve connectivity and boost the economy.

"The Prime Minister has always been very clear about his passion for bridges, his determination to deliver improved infrastructure and, again, during coronavirus we saw the importance of connectivity for the whole of the United Kingdom," he said.

"We put in extra money to support ferries and airlines being able to continue to keep the connectivity for Northern Ireland to the rest of the United Kingdom [going]. More connectivity is good for the UK as a whole and it's good for the economy and can deliver jobs.

"I think it is absolutely vital that we do the work to look at the feasibility and viability and how this can work. It would be an exciting project. Big infrastructure projects throughout history have been sometimes controversial, difficult, but they are the right thing to do.

"The M25 wasn't a straightforward thing, but now no one could imagine life without it around London. So I think it is the right thing to do and would be fantastic for connectivity."

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Secretary of State Brandon Lewis

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis

The concept of a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland has drew both support and criticism since it was first mooted by Boris Johnson some months ago.

DUP leader and First Minister Arlene Foster described the idea as "positive", while MP Sammy Wilson said the PM could "win back the trust of unionists" with the project.

During his tenure as Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar said he would not dismiss the idea, which "needs to be at least examined".

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken, however, have dismissed the idea, stating the money would be better spent elsewhere.

Critics have also questioned the viability of the project, pointing to the existence of scores of World War Two munitions lying at the bottom of the Irish Sea.

Belfast Telegraph