LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Thursday that it was unlikely to trigger the start of formal proceedings on leaving the European Union before the end of the year and that the decision is one for the British government.

French President Francois Hollande said he would tell British Prime Minister Theresa May at a meeting later on Thursday that talks must start fast and without pre-negotiations.

When asked about Hollande's comments, a spokeswoman for May said: "The PM has been clear on her position and it is a decision for the UK government to take on when it triggers Article 50."

(Reporting by William James, writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden)