STRASBOURG - The European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator warned his British counterpart on Tuesday there is an “intense” window of just 15 months to complete talks for the country’s exit from the EU.

Guy Verhofstadt said he had also told Brexit minister David Davis that European lawmakers would not accept Britain trying to keep access to the single market while limiting freedom of movement for EU citizens. “

We agreed on some things, on the need for this process to start as early as possible and need to be finished in any case before the next European elections” in May 2019, Verhofstadt said after the talks in Strasbourg, France. “So the window for the negotiations is more or less 14, 15 months,” he added. “It’s going to be a period that is very intense.”

He said if Britain triggers the two-year divorce process in March 2017 as Prime Minister Theresa May has promised following Britain’s June vote to leave, then formal negotiations are unlikely to start until May 2017. MEPs must then formally give their consent for any deal and that would take several months from late 2018, he said. Former Belgian prime minister and leading European federalist Verhofstadt had tweeted that it would be a “hell of a meeting” after Davis jokingly compared him to Satan earlier this year.