The politics of bridge building

The World Today Published 12 February 2018 Updated 18 November 2020 2 minute READ

Alan Philps

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

When Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, suggested building a bridge to link Britain and France over the 33km stretch of the English Channel, critics pointed out that it would be a hazard in the world’s busiest shipping lane and unnecessary given the existing railway tunnel. This did not stop the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland reviving a plan for a bridge to link the province with Scotland, supposedly a boost for the local economy.

Both these proposals are Brexit bridges designed to help Britain over the troubled waters of severing ties with Brussels; the first to show that Britain is ‘leaving the European Union but not leaving Europe’ – a puzzling concept for other member states of the EU – and the second is to bind together the nations of the UK with concrete and steel at a time when the strains of Brexit may prove fatal to the Union.

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