The UK was slammed for “gunboat diplomacy” after Royal Navy vessels were put on standby to  protect British fishing waters as a no-deal Brexit looms.

Four armed patrol boats were readied as the issue continues to be one of the major sticking points in negotiations.

But Dublin MEP Barry Andrews blasted the move as “irresponsible and inappropriate”.

The Fianna Fail MEP, a member of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade, told RTE: “It’s 19th Century gunboat diplomacy and this announcement was made the day after the European Commission published a regulation that would have allowed reciprocal access to each other’s fishing waters.

“It doesn’t bode well for an accord to be reached in the next 48 hours.” Tailbacks were seen on both sides of the English Channel as talks between the EU and UK stalled in Brussels, leading to stockpiling of goods.

Both sides set today as a deadline to decide whether talks should continue.

Trade tariffs could be hard to avoid amid big changes to business between Ireland and the UK on January 1.

Brexit: UK slammed for 'gunboat diplomacy' after Royal Navy vessels on standby to protect British …
Barry Andrews, MEP
(Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Irish Exporters Association chief Simon McKeever said: “Even if there is a deal we’re still going to have to deal with all the customs implications and the land bridge is going to be a huge issue.”

As the clock ticks down, British Prime Minister indicated a no-deal Brexit is likely.

Brexit: UK slammed for 'gunboat diplomacy' after Royal Navy vessels on standby to protect British …
(Image: PA)
Brexit: UK slammed for 'gunboat diplomacy' after Royal Navy vessels on standby to protect British …
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Fine Gael’s EU spokesperson Neale Richmond called on him to ignore headlines telling French President Macron to “shove his cake and bloody croissants”.

And he blasted Johnson’s plans to meet with German Chancellor and French President Emmanuel Macron to get a deal done as “fantasy”.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin is due on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme this morning.

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