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Hollande calls on Cameron to consult ahead of UK's EU referendum

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, whose Conservative Party won an unexpected clear majority in Britain's election Thursday
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, whose Conservative Party won an unexpected clear majority in Britain's election Thursday Reuters

French President François Hollande warned British Prime Minister David Cameron that "there are rules in Europe" when phoning to congratulate him on being reelected on Thursday. Cameron has promised to organise a referendum on membership of the European Union and hopes to negotiate the UK's status in the bloc.

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"It's legitimate to take account of the British people's aspirations but there are rules in Europe and one of them is consultation," Hollande told Cameron when he phoned on Friday from the French West Indian territory of Saint-Martin, where he was starting a five-day tour of the Caribbean.

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"I told him that I wanted to work with him, especially so that we can look at the UK's place in the European Union," Hollande told journalists.

But, apparently fearing ultimatums like those issued by former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984, he insisted that the British must consult with their partners.

Cameron's unexpected clear majority should avoid instability that "would have made choices difficult for the British", Hollande said.

"They haven't said they want to leave the EU," he pointed out. "Cameron has said he wants to discuss, so let's discuss."

European Commision president Jean-Claude Juncker, whose appointment was opposed by Cameron, cogratulated the British PM and said he was ready to "reach an agreement that is fair for the United Kingdom inside the European Union".

French right-wing politicians hailed Cameron's "impressive victory", as former president Nicolas Sarkozy dubbed it in a tweet.

Former prime minister François Fillon Cameron's Conservatives' "results in the field of growth and jobs", contrasting it to Hollande's record, hoping that the "failure" of the anti-EU Ukip would allow a calmer debate on Britain's role in the union.

Marine Le Pen, of the far-right Front National, took a different line.

"David Cameron would not have won if he hadn't promised a referendum on leaving the EU," she tweeted. "Now he must keep his promise."

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