THERESA May has fired a warning shot across Emmanuel Macron’s bows over his threat to push the future trade talks into the controversial backstop should EU fishermen fail to get full access to UK waters from 2021.

The Prime Minister made clear that the EU would be acting in bad faith if it was unwilling to complete a trade deal and had “closed its mind” from the outset of the trade talks to the UK’s clear position on fisheries ie that from the end of the transition period in December 2020 the UK will be an independent coastal state in complete control of its waters.

Indeed, No 10 stressed how this might mean the UK referring matters to an independent arbitration panel, which, in theory, could slap a fine on the EU27; it is unclear how much this could be.

On Sunday, the French President alarmed and angered UK politicians when at the special Brussels summit he stoked up the Brexit row on fisheries, saying the EU27 would use the issue of EU fishing rights as a “lever” in the future relationship talks.

“It is leverage because it is important as to our future relationship and I do not understand that Mrs May and those who support her very much want to stay in the customs union; they would rather favour new rules," the President told reporters.

His remarks followed the publication of a paper by the EU, which said it wanted a new trade deal with Britain to "build on, inter alia, existing reciprocal access and quota shares".

Scottish Conservative MP Ross Thomson, who represents Aberdeen South, said the EU statement was “deeply troubling”.

Mrs May has repeatedly insisted that there would be “no trade-off” between access to fishing waters and the trade talks.

Asked if she regarded Mr Macron’s remarks as a threat, her spokesman replied: “If the UK enters into the backstop we will be outside the Common Fisheries Policy and have full control over whether French fishermen can enter our waters.”

He then added: “If the EU were not willing to engage in a genuine negotiation to replace the backstop with the future relationship or the alternative arrangements - for example, if it had closed its mind from the outset to the UK position on fisheries - that would put it in breach of its duty of good faith under the agreement and we could refer this to independent arbitration.”

Under the Brexit deal if there were a dispute, then the UK and EU would at first try to resolve it through the Joint Committee but if this failed, then either party could request an arbitration panel.

The UK and EU would each nominate two members and agree a chairman. If a party did not comply with a ruling, the panel could impose a financial penalty.

If a dispute related to the interpretation of EU law or if the UK had complied with a European Court of Justice judgement made before the end of transition, then the ECJ would have jurisdiction. Its ruling would be binding on the arbitration panel.