It has been announced that Stuart Rose, the ex-head of high street retailer M&S, is to lead the new cross-party campaign for the UK to stay in the EU.
The announcement comes ahead of the official launch of the campaign on Monday, and has paved the way for senior Conservative MPs to show their support for Britain to stay in the EU.
Whilst Stuart Rose is currently in charge of online retailer Ocado, he is better known for being the chief executive and chairman of Marks and Spencer, and most prominently, he is a Tory peer, prompting speculation that Cameron could have an easier ride if he decides to vote ‘in’. The news has also quelled fears that the campaign to stay in the EU would be made up of figures distinctly left of centre, and suggests that the campaign will truly be a cross-party alliance.
Speaking publically Rose said “I believe that Britain is stronger in Europe. The choice in the coming referendum is between remaining stronger, safer and better off inside Europe, or taking a leap into the unknown, risking our prosperity, threatening our safety, and diminishing our influence in the world.”
Rose is expected to bring the voice of UK businesses to the table, and promote the good that being a part of the EU brings for trade. He faces opposition from Business for Britain, a group focussing their campaign on the benefits of leaving the EU for businesses, and the Conservative campaign to leave the EU, headed up by fellow Tory Lord Lawson, as well as the cross-party ‘umbrella’ group campaigning for Britain to leave.
The announcement comes as prime minister David Cameron is in talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at his country residence, Chequers, to discuss his demands for a reformed relationship with the EU. A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that the talks were “progressing well”, although there was still much to be worked on.
In anticipation of the launch, Rose stated “I look forward to introducing the rest of the board at our campaign event on Monday.” The launch event is expected to be attended by a wide range of politicians, businesspeople and key cultural figures who support Britain’s current alliance with Europe.