THE SNP have called on Boris Johnson’s government to allocate the £20 billion earmarked for a crossing between Scotland and Northern Ireland to the devolved Scottish and Northern Ireland governments.

The proposal – which was envisaged as either a bridge or a tunnel and received the personal backing of the Prime Minister – was estimated to cost £20bn, but was abandoned in September this year.

It was dubbed the 'Boris bridge' because of the PM's association with it, though the idea for the crossing was first put forward in The National by leading Scottish architect Alan Dunlop.

Now, Nicola Sturgeon’s party is demanding that the UK Government allocates the planned funding between Holyrood and Stormont – allowing both devolved governments to invest in their own transport projects as well as tackling callous Tory cuts imposed by Westminster.

The plea is being made to Chancellor Rishi Sunak as he delivers his second Budget of the year to the Commons today.

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“The SNP will always welcome engagement on how we can strengthen relations with our neighbours, but unlike the Tories we will focus on practical and achievable ideas,” said the SNP’s Westminster depute leader Kirsten Oswald.

“The Prime Minister was extremely keen on building a crossing between Scotland and Northern Ireland – a project that would cost in excess of £20bn to the taxpayer.

“Now that they have abandoned these plans, that £20bn should be sent directly to both Holyrood and Stormont for the devolved parliaments in Scotland and Northern Ireland to invest accordingly. They owe it to Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

She added: “Failure to do so will prove that this was nothing more than a vanity project for the Prime Minster – rather than a legitimate investment to improve the livelihoods of the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“Ahead of the upcoming Autumn Budget, Rishi Sunak must focus on delivering real economic investment and support to protect jobs and businesses, and to secure a strong economic recovery from the crisis – and that must start by sending this £20bn crossing fund to Holyrood and Stormont.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes warned Scots are facing a “real cost of living crisis”, as she urged the Chancellor to reinstate the £20 a week recently removed from Universal Credit. In a letter to the Chancellor, she called on him to use the budget to “provide certainty to the wider public sector, boost the economy and support our most vulnerable at this challenging time”.

Forbes, who will set out the Scottish Government’s draft budget for next year in December, stressed that ministers at Holyrood were “strongly opposed to any return to austerity”.

The Finance Secretary appealed to the Chancellor to re-think the Government’s recent decision to end the £20-a-week uplift in Universal Credit introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.

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She told Sunak: “The Universal Credit cut alone will push an extra 60,000 people in Scotland, including 20,000 children, into poverty and hundreds of thousands more into hardship, whilst also reducing social security expenditure in Scotland by £461 million by 2023-24.”

She insisted it was not justifiable for UK ministers to introduce these “cuts to individual income”.

With the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow getting under way in just a few days, she added that “significant investment is required from the UK Government in reserved areas” to help ensure that Scotland meets its emissions targets.

She urged the Chancellor to match the £500 million the Scottish Government has pledged to spend over 10 years to help the north east of Scotland transition away from oil and gas.