Scottish fishermen warn UK Government: 'We are not a Brexit bargaining chip'

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The Scottish fishing industry has warned the government not to “surrender to pressure” from the EU to trade access to British waters for a deal on financial services.

On Monday, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar became the latest senior EU figure to signal that access to the single market for the services industry would come at the price of continued access for European fishing fleets.

The Scottish fishing industry has issued a warning to the UK Government over upcoming Brexit trade talks

The Scottish fishing industry has issued a warning to the UK Government over upcoming Brexit trade talks

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Downing Street is no longer standing by a July deadline for a deal on fisheries set out in the political declaration attached to the just-signed Brexit deal, saying when asked yesterday that the timetable was “to be determined”.

“We are taking back control of our waters,” the spokesman told journalists. “It will be for the UK to determine for the best interests of the UK who fishes in those waters.”

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) chief executive Elspeth Macdonald warned there should be no link between access to UK waters and EU market access.

The SFF has held meetings with ministers and the Prime Minister to pressure the UK Government to “take back full control” of British waters.

“The government cannot surrender to pressure from the EU on trade – there is simply no precedent for this in any EU fisheries agreement with third parties and it would compromise the key principle of sovereignty over access to our waters,” Ms Macdonald said.

“The Scottish fishing industry is not a bargaining chip, but a sector that has been subjected to a historic wrong that needs to be put right.”

In an interview on Monday, the Irish Premier warned the UK: “An area where you’re in a very weak position is one of the most valuable parts of the British economy which is financial services.

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“And if financial services and entertainment, audio visual, are cut off from the single market, the European market, that will be a very severe blow to the British economy and the south-east, in particular in London.

“So, you know, you may have to make concessions in areas like fishing in order to get concessions from us in areas like financial services.”