Boris Johnson backs £15bn bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has thrown his weight behind the idea of building a bridge linking Northern Ireland and southern Scotland.
The £15bn 'Boris Bridge' would span the North Channel, and is already supported by the DUP, whose MPs back the Conservative Government at Westminster.
Quoting a source close to Mr Johnson, the Daily Telegraph reported: "Boris thinks this is an interesting idea which should be looked at more seriously - as politicians in Scotland and Northern Ireland have already said it's the kind of ambitious project we need to make a success of Global Britain."
Mr Johnson has already expressed support for the construction of a bridge linking England and France.
The idea of an bridge to Scotland has been around for more than a century, but has always been dismissed as either too expensive or too difficult to build.
Unlike the Straits of Dover, the North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland is very deep, which poses substantial construction challenges, compared to the England-France route.
A bridge stretching from Larne in Co Antrim to Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway is the most likely option, though a bridge from Bangor to Portpatrick could offer an alternative crossing.
The shortest distance would be from the north Antrim coast to the Mull of Kintyre - just 13 miles - but the road network from there to Glasgow would also require substantial upgrade work as a consequence - and would radically increase the project's cost.
The DUP's former Health Minister Simon Hamilton has previously backed a plan linking Northern Ireland and Scotland.
"Imagine being able to board a train in Belfast or Dublin and be in Glasgow or Edinburgh in just a few hours. It would revolutionise our trade and tourism never mind our sense of interconnectedness. It maybe isn't as unrealistic an idea as you'd first think," Mr Hamilton wrote in the Belfast Telegraph in January.
Alan Dunlop, an academic from Liverpool University, has suggested the bridge would be similar to the one connecting Denmark and Sweden across the Oresund Strait and could be completed for between £15bn to £20bn.
The Scottish Government has said it is ready to "explore all options" in relation to a physical link with Northern Ireland.