Transport minister Grant Shapps has suggested the government is considering whether to build a 50-mile tunnel to connect Ireland and Wales.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Shapps said the tunnel would be an alternative to the prime minister’s plan to link Scotland with Northern Ireland.
When questioned on the idea of linking Northern Ireland with mainland Britain, he said: “Why not?”
The Daily Express reported that the tunnel could be from Holyhead to Dublin and had been previously been priced at £15billion. It would be twice as long as the Channel Tunnel linking Kent and France.
In the Sunday Times, political dditor Tim Shipman reported that a feasibility study could be launched in the next few weeks.
A formal proposal for review has been submitted by the High Speed Rail Group, representing rail companies, to Sir Peter Hendy, the chairman of Network Rail, who is looking at ways of improving transport links to different parts of the UK.
“People think this is all a joke but it’s much more likely to get the go-ahead than people think,” a Whitehall official said.
Boris Johnson has previously suggested building a roundabout underneath the Isle of Man, linking Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England. The links would exist in Stanraer, Belfast, Liverpool and Heysham in Lancashire.
Shapps has doubts about this idea however, and told the FT: “I don’t know whether it should be there or to Wales.”
The link between Ireland and Wales would allow for a short-cut for Northern Ireland’s UK and European markets.
According to the newspaper, however, the tunnel scheme is regarded as “batshit” by several of Johnson’s senior aides.
“The idea was that these three tunnels would meet in a giant roundabout underneath the Isle of Man and the tunnel to Ireland would start there,” a source told the Times. “Everyone knows Boris wants to do this so people were asked to look at how.”
Currently, direct travel links between Wales and Northern Ireland do not exist.