Boris dumps bridge for Scotland and the leopard's spots hold firm - Angus Robertson

I would happily wager there is not a single person in Scotland who is surprised that Boris Johnson’s half-baked plans for a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland have been shelved.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 7:03 am

Less than one week after the UK Prime Minister stuffed the north of England with his u-turn on the levelling up agenda he’s at it in Scotland too.

As so often it is clear the Tories only really care about the South East of England.

As mayor of London Boris Johnson famously couldn’t even build a bridge across the Thames and continued in the same vein as Prime Minister promising ‘bread and circuses’ to Scotland and Northern Ireland with a fixed-link bridge.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dropped plans for a bridge between Scotland and Nothern Ireland. Angus Robertson is not surprised. PIC: Getty.

Any serious observer knew it was, to quote BoJo himself, a “pyramid of piffle”.

While 12-mile bridges can be built, the gap between Scotland and Northern Ireland includes the 32 mile- sub-sea depression Beaufort’s Dyke, which is 1,000 feet deep in parts.

That in turn is the dumping ground of 1 million tonnes of military munitions including phosgene, anti-tank weapons and other explosives.

The last time a bridge was mooted ordinance advisers said “any intrusive works such as piling associated with the construction of bridges would pose an unacceptable level of risk”.

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Without actually consulting with the Scottish Government, which is actually responsible for transport, the UK government pressed on with its madcap plans to prove to the restless natives that decision-makers in London really care.

Except it was obvious from the beginning that it was actually a non-starter. Johnson’s Secretary of State for Scotland Alastair Jack said ‘bridge’ was a euphemism for ‘tunnel’.

They are taking people for fools.

Over recent years, the Tories have been promising the North of England would become a ‘Northern Powerhouse, with major infrastructural investment including the High-Speed HS2 project and improved general rail links.

Now, however they have u-turned: scrapping the HS2 rail route to Leeds and downgrading Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The emperor has no clothes.

Boris Johnson promised Brexit would be a success and there would be a sea of opportunity for fishing communities.

He promised he would deliver for the North of England and Scotland too.

All were empty, cynical promises.

As is becoming clearer every day, the Tory target of taking back control is not just from Brussels but also from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Northern England.

Having taken control of funding projects previously agreed by the European Union and managed in Scotland, Westminster is slashing the budgets, just as they are for the likes of student exchanges.

Last week the Scottish Parliament agreed that: “The UK Government’s Spending Review plans for Levelling Up and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund not only fall well short of Scottish expectations and needs, but also infringe the sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament by circumventing the devolution settlement to deliver policy in areas that are clearly and firmly within the ambit of the Scottish Government, and calls on the UK Government to keep the promises made to Scotland, and to work in full partnership with the Scottish Government and local communities on the development of these programmes going forward to ensure they support job creation and a just transition, and meet the needs of Scotland’s citizens”.

I’m not holding my breath that the Tory leopard will change its spots.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central

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