Alex Salmond has been accused of being prepared to “sell out” Scottish fishermen in exchange for a seat at the Brussels table.
The first minister was challenged to reveal what he was willing to offer Spain in return for its support for an independent nation’s bid to join the EU.
The country’s fishing fleet has a long-standing interest in Scotland’s catching grounds.
But during a clash with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, Mr Salmond said his government would always stand up for fishermen.
The SNP claims EU membership could be negotiated within 16 months of Scotland becoming independent, retaining UK opt-outs on the euro, rebates and freedom of movement.
On Wednesday, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said “that a country that obtained independence from the EU would end up outside of it”.
It would then require the agreement of all 28 member states to be allowed to join, he said.
Mr Rennie told Mr Salmond that during a visit to Holyrood, Croatian ambassador Ivan Grdesic said that new members had to “take pretty much what is offered”.
“Every country has had to trade things away to secure a place in the EU. Will the first minister sell out our Scottish fishermen for a Spanish vote?” he said.
“What about the rebate, the Schengen agreement or the euro? We all know that he will say anything to get independence. Who will he sell out to get the vote that he needs?”
Mr Salmond hit back, quoting from a 43-year-old document from former Tory prime minister Ted Heath’s administration.
He said: “I will remind Willie Rennie that, in negotiations for joining the European Community, as it was then, a civil servant noted – ‘in light of Britain’s wider European interests they, the Scottish fishermen, are expendable’.
” I can tell Willie Rennie that, for this government, Scottish fishing will never be expendable.”
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