A proposed undersea tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland, named ‘Boris’s Burrow’ after could be approved within weeks, it has been claimed.
But the logistics of creating the 25-mile tunnel has been debunked in some quarters.
If approved, it woujld run under the Irish Sea between Portpatrick, in the south west of Scotland and Larne in Co Antrim.
It is expected to be highlighted in an imminent UK transport infrastructure report by the head of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy.
He has already met with Scottish secretary Alister Jack and Mr Johnson, who is said to be “very enthusiastic” about the proposal.
Mr Jack has previously told a Holyrood committee that he preferred the idea of a tunnel to a bridge, which would be estimated to cost around £20bn.
Since the conclusion of the Brexit transition period on December 31, the crossing idea has been pushed into the spotlight, as the Northern Ireland protocol included in the Brexit withdrawal agreement sees the region remaining within EU trade regulations.
Transport review to examine feasibility of building a bridge or tunnel between Northern Ireland and Scotland
If approved, it is believed that the tunnel could cost some £10 billion to construct, and could be modelled on the Channel tunnel linking Britain and France.
But the prospect has been met with disdain in some quarters.
Conservative MP Simon Hoare, chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, yesterday dismissed the idea of an undersea tunnel as fanciful and said the government’s focus should be on making the protocol work.
“The trains could be pulled by an inexhaustible herd of Unicorns overseen by stern, officious dodos,” he tweeted.
“A PushmePullYou could be the senior guard and Puff the Magic Dragon the inspector. Let’s concentrate on making the protocol work and put the hallucinogenics down.”
He later tweeted that there are several practical barriers in the way of the rail project.
“Also another ‘minor hurdle’ is the NI railway gauge is an ‘all Ireland’ gauge which is different to that used in GB,” he tweeted.
“I’m not Brunel but I think this might be a bit of a problem.”
Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson has previously rubbished the idea of a fixed link between the nations as the Prime Minister’s “vanity project”.
Mr Jack stated his belief that Mr Hendy will recommend the construction of a tunnel rather than the bridge originally proposed in 2018, saying: “My strong inclination would be that he thinks it should be a tunnel because he and I have had conversations about the weather patterns in the Irish Sea and Beaufort’s Dyke, and there’s a munitions deposit there.”