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Boris Bridge – the quest to enshrine himself in history continues

We all know when it comes to Boris Johnson's approach to politics it is not about what he is doing now – which is essentially to lurch from one gaff to another, each a little less funny than the last – it is about what he will be remembered for.

He wants to be slotted into this country's political history next to his hero Winston Churchill and to do so, he knows he needs to be remembered for one great thing – in Churchill's case the small matter of the Second World War. In Boris' case...well Boris is still working on that.

No doubt he hopes his latest mad-cap scheme, Boris Bridge, will be the one piece of alliterative genius to secure him historical immortality. This bridge would span the width of the English Channel, uniting Britain with France.

During the Anglo-French conference last week Boris piped up that it was “ridiculous” that the two countries, which are only 22 miles apart, are not linked by road. Choosing to ignore the fact we already have the Channel Tunnel, probably because tunnel begins with 't' not 'b' – he said a bridge over the water was the answer.

There have been opponents to the scheme (quelle surprise) – namely architects, bridge builders and the whole maritime industry - who believe it would be nigh on impossible to build such a giant bridge-like structure, chiefly because of how costly it would prove. Others have said that this is not even a unique idea. The possibility of a road bridge over the Channel was previously floated during Margaret Thatcher's reign and was dismissed due to that stretch of water being so busy with ships.

My favourite critique comes from Alan Dunlop, from the school of architecture at Liverpool University, who said: “It would really be cheaper to move France closer.” Projected costs are £120billion.

The official line from misery towers – 10 Downing Street – is there are no plans for a bridge over the Channel. This is despite rumours French President Emmanuel Macron was heard to say; “Yes, let's do it” when Boris mooted the idea. Macron must have been a little high on joy de virve.

Of course this is not Boris' first attempt to secure himself a place in political eternity. Who can forget the Boris Buses, which came about following a competition he launched during his time as London Mayor, to design a bus to replace the iconic Routemaster. The buses hit the roads in 2012 but faced criticism about their cost, problems with their hybrid engines and non-opening windows. Transport for London have said they are not buying any more.

Then there was the £60million cable car over the Thames which opened ahead of the London Olympics in 2012, again during Boris' stint as mayor. He said it was an ideal way of linking north and south London but it was panned over its cost and limited passenger numbers.

Boris Island was another one. Long backed by BoJo as an alternative way of expanding airport provision in south-east England, by making planes land on a purpose-built island on the Thames Estuary, it was rejected in 2014.

Of course there was another bridge – Garden Bridge – a £200million plan to build a bridge covered by trees over the River Thames in central London. This was abandoned just last year when Boris' successor to mayor, Sadiq Khan, rejected it.

So all hopes are focused on Boris Bridge then. And if all else fails, Boris could always play a crucial role in literally moving France closer to Britain. A lasso over the Eiffel Tower and then reeling it in from there should do it. No one would forget that.


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