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Irish Sea rail tunnel plan derided as Doctor Dolittle fantasy

A proposed undersea tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland has hit some credibility issues with one senior Conservative MP describing it as a Physician Dolittle fantasy designed to distract from post-Brexit border examine issues.

“The trains might be pulled by an inexhaustible herd of unicorns overseen by stern, officious dodos,” tweeted Simon Hoare, the Tory MP who chairs Westminster’s Norther Eire affairs committee.

“A PushmePullYou might be the senior guard,” he mentioned, alluding to the Physician Dolittle creature with a head at every finish of its physique, “and Puff the Magic Dragon the inspector”.

The thought was a fantasy which distracted from efforts to easy post-Brexit checks between Northern Ireland and Nice Britain, mentioned Hoare. “Let’s consider making the protocol work and put the hallucinogenics down.”

If the rail trade leaders who proposed tunnelling underneath the Irish Sea between Stranraer and Larne hoped for enthusiasm, or not less than to be taken severely, they are going to be upset by the withering responses.

Politicians and enterprise leaders have lined as much as scorn the concept, calling it a distraction from efforts to adapt to the Northern Ireland protocol, part of the Brexit take care of requires customs checks on some items getting into the area from Nice Britain.

“It’s time the prime minister woke as much as that actuality, folks right here merely don’t desire a Boris bridge, a Boris burrow, frankly a Boris something,” mentioned Nichola Mallon, Northern Eire’s infrastructure minister. “They need jobs, alternatives, stability and a brighter future.”

Aodhán Connolly of the Northern Eire Retail Consortium mentioned it took 30 years to construct the Channel tunnel, that there was a munitions dump blocking the way in which and that any tunnel to Northern Eire wouldn’t obviate border checks.

Essentially the most direct route passes Beaufort’s Dyke, a 1,000ft deep trench within the Irish Sea the place the federal government dumped about 1,000,000 tonnes of unused explosives and chemical weapons, together with sarin and mustard fuel.

The Excessive Pace Rail Group (HSRG) has proposed the tunnel in its submission to a evaluate to a bunch tasked with exploring methods to enhance connectivity between the 4 constituent components of the UK, saying it could bind Northern Eire nearer to Nice Britain and “tackle issues in financial standing of Northern Eire post-Brexit”.

The popular route, based mostly on 120-year-old analysis by the Victorian engineer James Barton, could be diverted to keep away from Beaufort’s Dyke.

Sir Peter Hendy, who’s main the group, is anticipated to publish his interim report inside weeks.

It seems to be a sequel to the bridge between Scotland and Northern Eire that Downing Road mooted final 12 months. Critics known as it a fantasy designed to mollify unionists fearful that Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal would undermine the area’s place within the UK.

The Ulster Unionist get together chief, Steve Aiken, dismissed the tunnel as impractical. “Can we simply have 10% of the multi-billions that it could price to repair our infrastructure – oh, and perhaps some zero-emission ferries [built here] — now that may make extra sense [also get rid of the Irish Sea border].”

Sammy Wilson, a Democratic Unionist get together MP, didn’t ridicule the tunnel however mentioned it was extra vital for Northern Eire to be linked economically and constitutionally, not bodily.

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