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British, French Dispute on Brexit’s Timescale | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French President Francois Hollande (R) is greeted by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny after he arrives at Government Buildings in Dublin, Ireland, July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Paris – French President Francois Hollande asked Britain to present convincing evidence regarding Brexit procedures. He added that he’d want Britain to start its Brexit talks as soon as possible.

Hollande said he recognized that UK needed time to prepare but stressed: “The sooner the better.”

At a press conference in Ireland and prior to his meeting with the newly elected British Prime Minister Theresa May, Hollande wanted an explanation on why procedures haven’t started, while May declared Britain has no intentions of triggering Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty until the end of the year.

“First we spoke of September, then October and now December. There needs to be justifications. If it is to delay the negotiation…I think it would create a damaging uncertainty,” declared Hollande.

“If it is to have more time for the negotiations so that the negotiations are shorter, then that can be envisaged,” he added.

May’s spokesperson replied that her government needed time to prepare negotiations.

Holland was firm that if Britain wanted access to the single market, it must respect freedom of movement.

Irish Prime minister Enda Kenny held a joint press conference in Dublin with the French Primer during which Kenny urged rapid exit talks. He also said they share the same idea with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Hollande stressed that, “It will be a choice facing the UK-remain in the single market and then assume the free movement that goes with it or to have another status. That will be the subject of the negotiation.”

He added: “None can be separated from the other. There cannot be freedom of movement of goods, free movement of capital, free movement of services if there isn’t a free movement of people.”

Hollande and Kenny issued a joint statement declaring, “That’s the point that will be the subject of the negotiation. The U.K. today has access to the single market because it respects the four freedoms. If it wishes to maintain in the single market it will have to abide by the four freedoms. There cannot be freedom of movement of goods, capital and services if there isn’t free movement of people.”

British Prime Minister met with Chancellor Merkel in Berlin and both agreed that U.K. needs some time.

“The sooner the better is in the common interest. We can prepare for discussions but there cannot be discussions or negotiations. Uncertainty is the greatest danger. The new government needs time, but let me be clear: the sooner the better in the common interest,” said Merkel before meeting with Hollande.

But May stood firm: “It will take time to prepare for those negotiations. I understand the need for certainty and confidence in the markets. But the UK will not invoke Article 50 before the end of this year.”