The increasingly desparate efforts of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to save the union has seen his proposed sea tunnel between Ireland and Scotland branded as ‘hallucinogenic’.
The multi-billion pound tunnel through the Irish Sea could be declared feasible within weeks as a sop to unionists.
It is understood the plan may involve the creation of a submerged floating tube bridge (SFTB). It would connect the two islands underwater to avoid the vicious storms on the Irish Sea, but above the Beaufort Dyke, a trench a thousand feet deep and filled with unexploded munitions dumped after the Second World War.
Set to be billed as a new Channel Tunnel, the floating tube plan has never been tested and carries a significant risk of catastrophic failure.
Johnson’s own Tory MP Simon Hoare, chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, dismissed the idea as fanciful.
“The trains could be pulled by an inexhaustible herd of Unicorns overseen by stern, officious dodos,” he wrote, mockingly.
“A PushmePullYou [a Doctor Doolittle creature] could be the senior guard and Puff the Magic Dragon [from a Pater, Paul and Mary song] the inspector. Let’s concentrate on making the Protocol work and put the hallucinogenics down.”
But DUP MP Sammy Wilson, whose East Antrim seat would host the Irish end of the tunnel, said: “This kind of project would at least give people in Northern Ireland the belief that the [London] Government was prepared to put in infrastructure and spend money to make sure that we are physically connected.
“The important thing is to make sure that we are economically and constitutionally connected – that is far more important than a physical connection. But nevertheless symbolically it would be very important to hear this message.”
In contrast, a growing ‘Who’s Who’ of British society are calling for preparations to be made for Irish reunification. This week one of Britain’s best known media editors and historians said he believes Ireland will be united and a “historic injustice will be righted”.
A former editor of the right-wing Daily Telegraph, Hastings has argued that Brexit has “forged a template for minorities to assert themselves”, and that both the north of Ireland and Scotland are destined to be liberated from rule by London.
He also notes the English will not be overly concerned by the north’s departure, claiming that “most British people care not a fig” for Ireland.
He described partition as a “monstrous injustice committed by the British government” in response to pressure from a “vociferous minority of a million Protestants, most of whose forebears were ‘planted’ in Ulster by Oliver Cromwell’s followers in the 17th century”.
Writing for Bloomberg, he pointed out that before Direct Rule was imposed in the North, unionism treated Catholics “almost as harshly as US white segregationists in the old South treated African Americans”.
“Lord Brookeborough, a Protestant grandee who served as Ulster prime minister between 1943 and 1963, said without embarrassment that, while he knew fellow landowners who employed Catholics on their estates, he would never do so himself,” he wrote.
It was such attitudes that led to the recent conflict, he said, revealing that he had witnessed the state killing of a young boy and unionists politicians later justifying it.
“In August 1969, I witnessed Protestant police hosing down a Catholic block of flats in Belfast with a heavy machine-gun, killing a nine year-old boy.
“The next day, I heard unionist ministers justifying police actions by pleading that they faced a Catholic uprising.”
Mr Hastings noted how the 26 County state has become economically prosperous over recent decades compared to the north, which is “kept alive only by massive subsidy from Britain”.
Pointing to a recent poll showing a slim majority favouring a border poll, he said that if a “majority [in the north] choose to join the south, few English people will care”.