BBC Question Time audience members in Dundee burst into applause after SNP MP Joanna Cherry forecasted Scotland and Northern Ireland will have left the United Kingdom by 2030.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry claimed Scotland and Northern Ireland will be leaving the United Kingdom to pursue an independent future as members of the European Union within the next ten years. The SNP has long been campaigning for a second referendum on independence and the success of Sinn Fein in Ireland’s latest round of election suggests a border poll may be on the cards sometime in the future. Discussing the idea of a bridge linking Scotland to Northern Ireland, Ms Cherry told the BBC Question Time audience: “I’m not against the idea of a bridge because in the next 10 years, looking at the demographics and the youth vote, Ireland will reunify and Scotland will become independent.
“And we’ll both be in the European Union.”
The forecast caused the BBC Question Time audience to burst into applause as Ms Cherry continued: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a link for Irish trade through Scotland through expanded ports over Fife and Leith and go direct to the continent?
“Remember this, when Ireland joined the EEC in 1973, the great bulk of trade for Ireland was with England, now the balance is changed and the significant bulk Ireland’s trade is with the European Union.
“Scotland needs to look to its future market and our future market is the European Union, which is eight times the size of the British market.”
The UK Government confirmed plans to build a connecting bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland to better link the two nations are now under consideration.
Two potential routes have been suggested as the top location to install the bridge, connecting Portpatrick to Larne or creating a link near Campbeltown to the Antrim area.
Earlier in the programme, BBC QT host Fiona Bruce was forced to address bias concerns and confirmed SNP voters made up the biggest part of the audience to proportionally match voting patterns in the host city of Dundee.
Ms Bruce said: “As usual our audience has been selected to reflect the current political picture in Scotland so that means there are more SNP than Conservative or Labour supporters plus a smaller number from other parties.”
Despite backing plans for a bridge, Ms Cherry voiced her scepticism at the prospect of Prime Minister Boris Johnson being able to deliver on the engineering project.
The SNP politician said: “I’m sceptical about the engineering side, I’m not an engineer and there are other long bridges elsewhere in the world.
“I would love to see improved transport links between Ireland and Scotland but I very much doubt Boris Johnson will be the one to deliver it.”
Experts have said that, while a link between Portpatrick and Larne is technically possible, the route would be fraught with problems.
One major issue here would be the need to cross Beaufort’s Dyke, a deep trench used as a munitions dump after World War Two.
There is thought to be around one million tonnes of munitions lurking below the 26-mile stormy stretch of water.
Bridge builders would have to navigate and avoid this trench, the exact location of which is under doubt.
Ian Firth, a structural engineer and bridge designer, said he believed design could be completed within three years.
Then, subject to gathering necessary data and no unforeseen issues, constructed within six.
However, he added that additional time would be needed for environmental and geotechnical studies, making a 15-year timeline more likely.