Rebels stew a fish row

The Prime Minister held urgent talks with William Waldegrave, the Minister of Agriculture, yesterday to try to stave off defeat in Brussels today over Spain's demand for access to British fishing waters.

Failure to secure an adequate compromise when European Union ministers resume the deadlocked talks will give further ammunition to Euro-sceptic Tories as well as angering fishermen in the South-west.

Spain, with the largest fishing fleet in the EU, wants full access to EU waters from 1996, including the 92,000 sq miles from Scotland to Cornwall known as the "Irish Box''.

Negotiations today will focus on three areas within the box which Mr Waldegrave will try to preserve for British and Irish boats. Crucial for the South-west fisherman are the waters between Cornwall and southern Ireland. Spain, however, has threatened toblock entry to the EU of new members Austria, Sweden and Finland, if access is not granted.

David Harris, Conservative MP for St Ives, accused Spain of "blackmail". He and two other Tories representing Cornwall again urged Mr Waldegrave not to sign any compromise damaging to local fishermen.

"If they do go along with such a compromise we would be the first to criticise the Government and we would not support them if there was a subsequent vote in the Commons," he said.

A former MEP who takes a pragmatic approach to the EU, Mr Harris added that the dispute was playing "right into the hands of Euro-sceptics'' and risked becoming much bigger than one simply about fishing.

One of the principal sceptics, Bill Cash, Tory MP for Stafford, predicted the EU council would give in to Spain just as, he said, it had to Italy over milk quota fraud. Britain lost out every time, whether in the Council of Ministers or the courts, he said.

As voting in the Council of Ministers will be by qualified majority, Britain and Ireland require the support of one large country, such as France or Germany, to secure an acceptable deal.

In a further irritant from Brussels yesterday, Britain was ordered by the European Commission to pay back £2.5m for inefficiency and accounting errors involving farm grants and subsidies.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk