David Cameron needs to formally start proceedings to leave the European Union this week, according to Martin Schulz, the leader of the EU parliament. He wants the British PM to invoke Article 50 on Tuesday, when EU leaders are scheduled to meet to discuss the ramifications of last Thursday's referendum.

Schulz, the German president of the European Parliament, told a newspaper in his homeland that any period of uncertainty before Cameron fired the official starting gun would "lead to even more insecurity and thus endanger jobs".

He said: "Hesitating simply to accommodate the party tactics of the British conservatives hurts everyone. That is why we expect the British government to now deliver. The summit on Tuesday is the right time."

On Saturday, meanwhile, foreign ministers from the EU's six founding states issued a joint statement urging Britain to start the process of leaving as soon as possible.

But Cameron's government is unwilling to invoke Article 50, which would set in motion the process of uncoupling Britain from Europe, lasting two years. The prime minister himself insisted during his resignation speech on Friday, 24 June, that he will not trigger the Brexit process, and that it would be down to his successor. Due to the Tory party's lengthy process of selecting a new leader, Cameron could remain in office until the Tory party conference in September.

Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary who backed the Remain campaign, has meanwhile said: "There is no imperative on us to serve Article 50 at any particular time. We're under pressure from our EU partners to do it quickly, but the timing is entirely up to us."

The Leave camp, meanwhile, are being more cautious still. Neither Michael Gove nor Boris Johnson have spoken openly about pulling the trigger on Article 50. Conservative MP Liam Fox has said he wants Britain's departure to be finalised on 1 January 2019, which would mean a six-month wait for the process to start from today.