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It turns out that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spiel about building a bridge between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK during his bid for the Conservative party leadership wasn’t all talk. Documents leaked to the news desk of British television channel Channel 4 reveal that the Department of Transport and the Treasury have both been consulted on risks and costs for such a project, with the Prime Minister wanting to know where the money for it would come from.
There are a lot of risks to building such a bridge, including the fact that a significant amount of munitions left from the second world war and nuclear waste were dumped in Beauforts Dyke, an area of the sea bed deep enough it would require some of the tallest bridge towers ever built. Not to mention that the potential locations for the Scottish side of the bridge are out in the middle of nowhere, rendering it a very inconvenient means of travel between the two countries. Nonetheless, the DUP, the dominant party in Northern Ireland who formed a coalition government with the Conservative party in Westminster, have expressed approval for the idea, suggesting it might be a partial solution to the border problem caused by Brexit.
This isn’t Johnson’s first flirtation with impractical bridges. In 2018, he suggested building a bridge between England and France, and his Garden Bridge in London was abandoned before work started after going several million over budget. Commenters on Twitter were quick to remember Boris’ track record with bridges.
The story so far @BorisJohnson and the Thames Garden Bridge.— Tories rely on stupidity and Stories #GTTO (@ChampagneDosser) September 10, 2019
Thames Garden Bridge fails costing taxpayers £40M
Enter GARDEN BRIDGE 2.0
Scotland to Ireland.
Enter Gerard Butler Franchise chronicling
the whole sorry saga. pic.twitter.com/G8yky6rR2i
Not another Johnson bridge... Maybe a zip-line would be more in character— Richard Hallett (@hallettrichard) September 10, 2019
While others see this reveal as yet another distraction technique, referencing the time Boris claimed he enjoyed painting model buses in an interview, conveniently replacing the previous top search results for the term “Boris bus” (the disastrous new route masters he introduced to London transit) with that.
No he isn't. It's another "painting buses". Look over there, not over here. This will dominate the media for the next few days. And you are complicit.— junes63🌹 (@JuneSim63) September 10, 2019
Meanwhile, how about investigating this 👇https://t.co/yFbXyjGQeg
No, he isn't. This is wheeled out to distract people.— Naomi Long MEP (@naomi_long) September 10, 2019
It's not economically viable: the Irish Sea is too deep, the winds are too high, Beaufort's Dyke is full of munitions & nuclear waste and it fails the demand test.
If HMG has this kind of cash, invest it wisely, not in this.
This is the go-to 'distracrion' tale with the DUP. It's barely scientifically possible and won't pass any cost-benefit analysis even if you expect a return before the next millennium.— MLAs And The Like (@MLAsAndTheLike) September 10, 2019
Or across the Thames.— Just a Londoner (@HandsOffLondon) September 10, 2019
Some discussed the engineering, safety and financial problems with the idea.
The Bridge of the Horns is shorter and crosses similar depth of water. It's estimated at USD20 billion, only three times the cost of HS2, and we're all know how well that's going. pic.twitter.com/oEwugRTehf— Michael Behan (@mikecreggane) September 10, 2019
Shame that's where we dumped all the munitions after WWII.— Nicholas Jackson #FBPE EU citizen 🔶⬛ (@npjackson123) September 10, 2019
Is there a dead cat emoji yet?
It would be closed 60% of the time because of weather 😂— Cillan32 (@cillian32) September 10, 2019
All in all, no one seems impressed, with Twitter user @curates_egg saying we should call this bridge the Tyrant’s Causeway—referencing a mythical bridge between Scotland and Ireland built by tyrannical giants, attributed to volcanic features found on both coasts.
He could call it the Tyrant’s Causeway— Curate's Egg 🍳 (@curates_egg) September 10, 2019
Why? Yet another vastly expensive and pointless vanity project? Garden Bridge? Stupid man.— GMP 💊🌑🙇♀️🤦♀️🕷🇪🇺 (@PictorMary) September 10, 2019
He likes things beginning with B doesn't he. Bridges, buses, buffoonery and talking bollox.— Wannabe Artist. (@ZippieSteve) September 10, 2019
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org