THE Scottish fishing industry has fired a warning shot across the UK Government’s bows, making clear that a failure to secure full control over British waters post-Brexit would be a “colossal betrayal”.

The uncompromising message from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation[SFF] comes ahead of Brexit Day when the UK will enter an 11-month transition period.

It also follows raised concerns after suggestions were made that the EU wants a “trade-off” with the UK involving a deal with the UK on financial services in exchange for secured access to UK waters for the EU27.

On Monday, Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, suggested the EU had the upperhand in the trade talks because its population was much bigger than the UK’s and pointed to a “trade-off” between the two sides.

He said: “You may have to make concessions in areas like fishing…in order to get concessions from us in areas like financial services and that's why things tend to be all in the one package."

A leaked European Council memo promised to “demonstrate particular vigilance…in protecting fishing enterprises and coastal communities”.

Last week, Charles Grant, the Director of the Centre for European Reform, told a Holyrood committee senior UK Government officials had indicated they would “trade-off” Scottish fishing to “get a better deal on financial services”.

But in his People’s PMQs from Downing St, Boris Johnson made clear there would be no quid pro quo regards fishing and financial services, saying: “We will make sure we don’t trade away Britain’s fishing rights as they were traded away for instance in the accession negotiations in the early 1970s. Be confident about fish.”

However, Elspeth Macdonald, the SFF’s Chief Executive, said: “We are now entering the transition period and for our members that means a phased exit from the Common Fisheries Policy[CFP] that must be completed by the end of this year.

“But if we are to secure the benefits that leaving the CFP will bring, the Sea of Opportunity that lies just over the horizon, the UK must have sovereignty over who catches what, where and when in our waters.

“To be clear, we have never said that we wanted to deny EU vessels the opportunity to fish in UK waters post-Brexit. Our consistent position has been that we want unfettered control over access. Then, as a coastal state, we can negotiate with the EU and others on an annual basis in international forums.

“This is what Norway, Iceland and Faroe – and indeed the EU itself – do. Over time this will allow the UK to obtain a much fairer share of the quota in its own waters than the 40% it is entitled to under the CFP.”

Ms Macdonald added: “There is still a palpable feeling within the industry that it was let down badly when the UK joined the CFP; any failure to leave it on the right terms would be a colossal betrayal.”

She further highlighted the need for the forthcoming Fisheries Agreement that will be negotiated between the UK and the EU27 to set out over-arching principles and not become burdened with technical details of fisheries management.

The SFF chief also emphasised that there could be no link between access to UK waters and EU market access.

“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.

“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,” she added.

In the past fortnight, an SFF team has been pressing senior ministers and the Prime Minister himself to uphold their promises to take back full control of UK waters.