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Tunnel vision: Another grand Boris Johnson-inspired plan on the scrapheap

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

The prime minister is probably unequalled in the democratic world (leaving aside the more sycophantic dictatorships) in the number of things named after him. Boris buses, various Boris bridges, Boris Island (a putative airport in the Thames estuary that never, erm, got off the ground)… some have had more going for them than others, and some haven't really existed outside Boris Johnson's imagination. The latest casualty is the "Boris Tunnel", a plan to connect Northern Ireland (and the island of Ireland) with Scotland, between Belfast and Stranraer, roughly following the present short ferry route.

The scheme was, so far as can be judged, to stimulate trade across the British Isles, of particular use post-Brexit, and to create a land link to better cement Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. Ambitious and visionary as it may have been, the scheme did not commend itself to the prime minister's (now former) senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, who called it "the world's most stupid tunnel". Even at this distance, one can almost sense the sadness in the prime minister's eyes as he read his Svengali's verdict on his brainchild. More to the point, the chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, a man who was supposed to have been Mr Johnson's obedient chief bank clerk, a sort of human overdraft for his madder ideas, has axed the bridge scheme. The Treasury has thus saved a handy £15bn, a modest contribution to putting the public finances back on track. Mr Sunak's sultans of swing have ensured that the headlines made clear that it was he who euthanised the prime minister's latest pet project.

The then mayor of London rides around on a 'Boris bike' in 2015


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