LONDON — A cross-party campaign that will lead the fight for Britain to remain in the European Union ahead of a referendum due by 2017 is to launch on today.
The "Britain Stronger in Europe" campaign will be led by businessman Stuart Rose, a Conservative peer in Britain's upper house of parliament and the former boss of Marks and Spencer.
"I believe that we are stronger, better off and safer inside Europe than we would be out on our own," Rose is to say at the campaign's launch today, according to pre-released remarks.
"To claim that the patriotic course for Britain is to retreat, withdraw and become inward looking is to misunderstand who we are as a nation," he will add.
"I will not allow anyone to tell me I'm any less British because I believe in the strongest possible Britain for business, for our security and our society." The campaign will include three former prime ministers, former Labour minister Peter Mandelson, and businesswoman and Conservative peer Karren Brady among other prominent figures.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who leads a centre-right Conservative government, in 2013 promised to hold a referendum amid pressure from the anti-EU UK Independence Party and the eurosceptic wing of his own party.
He has vowed to renegotiate Britain's membership before putting it to the vote, and is lobbying for more powers for London and the ability to opt out of closer political integration.
Polls indicate that support for Britain remaining within the 28-member bloc is leading among the public, but that the gap is narrowing.
The launch of "Britain Stronger in Europe" follows the debut of two campaigns for the country to leave the EU.
"Vote Leave", including members of both the Conservative party and the main opposition Labour party, launched last week, while the UKIP-led "Leave.EU" launched in September.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has played down reports of rifts within the camp advocating for a so-called "Brexit", saying the two campaigns are "complementary." — AFP