SCOTTISH fishermen have reacted angrily to Brussels’ attempt to maintain pre-Brexit access to UK waters as a price for agreeing a tariff-free trade deal with Britain.

Fishing groups have branded the EU27 move "arrogant, absurd and nonsensical" while Scottish politicians have urged Theresa May to stand up to Brussels and defend UK fishing rights.

The EU’s draft negotiation guidelines for its future relationship with the UK make clear that the bloc wants "as close as possible a partnership" after Brexit but expects "negative economic consequences".

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council of leaders, said the proposals on the future relationship showed "we do not want to build a wall between the EU and Britain" after Brexit but wished to “remain friends and partners”.

He insisted the EU27 would aim for an "ambitious" free trade agreement with the UK but added: "Our agreement will not make trade between the UK and EU frictionless or smoother. It will make it more complicated and costly than today for all of us. This is the essence of Brexit."

The guidelines say a free trade agreement should address "trade in goods with the aim of covering all sectors, which should be subject to zero tariffs and no quantitative restrictions", but they then note: “In this context, existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources should be maintained."

Bertie Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, was dismissive. “There cannot be 'fairer shares' for our fishing communities if we maintain existing reciprocal access.

"This latest gambit must be rejected. When we leave the EU we leave the Common Fisheries Policy and assume our rightful place at the table as a coastal state.”

He added: “Each year we will then decide who catches what, where and when. The days of the EU taking 60 per cent of our fish are coming to an end."

Simon Collins of the Shetland Fishermen's Association stressed how the UK would become an independent coastal state on March 29 2019 and should exercise its rights and responsibilities as such immediately.

"No coastal state currently offers the EU guarantees of access to its waters and natural resources and neither should we," he added.

David Duguid, the Scottish Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, said the EU 27’s position was “totally unacceptable” and urged the UK Government to “strongly defend our fishermen and coastal communities across the country, who voted to take back control of our waters”.

Insisting there should be a fair share for UK fishermen following Brexit, he added: “For the avoidance of doubt, that means we come out of the Common Fisheries Policy immediately upon leaving the EU and assume our status as an independent coastal state. We must be in control of who comes into our waters and how much they fish.”

Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, insisted unless Britain took back full ownership and control of its waters, Brexit would have been “betrayed”.

He added: "Our coastal fishing communities have this one last chance. Time for Mrs May to handbag Barnier and say we will take our waters back. This is the acid test of Brexit."

Philip Hammond, stressing how the UK wanted a “possible route to a future partnership grounded in logic, pragmatism and compromise,” said he was not surprised the EU had set out a "very tough" position in its draft negotiating guidelines but expected the UK to have a “deep and constructive engagement with them”.

He indicated Britain could be prepared to grant EU trawlers access to its waters after Brexit, saying: "Fishing is an iconically important British industry and we are very clear that we are taking control of our waters.”

But he then added: “Of course, we would be open to discussing with our EU partners about the appropriate arrangements for reciprocal access for our fishermen to EU waters and for EU fishermen to our waters. We would have to negotiate the basis on which such an arrangement could be fair and appropriate for us."