Lord Rose is currently chairman of Ocado, FatFace and Oasis Dental Care

Lord Rose is currently chairman of Ocado, FatFace and Oasis Dental Care

The Conservative peer, now chairman of the In Campaign, said the UK was ?stronger in Europe? and to leave the EU would be a ?leap into the unknown?.

On Friday, Conservative, Labour and UKIP MPs launched a cross-party campaign to take the UK out of the EU.

David Cameron has promised a referendum on the issue by the end of 2017.

He held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Chequers on Friday, in which he stressed he wanted to ?secure reforms and then keep the United Kingdom in a reformed EU?.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ?He noted that the technical talks are progressing well but that there is still much to be worked through in order to find a solution. Chancellor Merkel reiterated that she wanted Britain to remain in the EU.?

Lord Rose?s appointment comes as a review of the ?costs and benefits? of the UK?s membership of the EU, to be conducted by the Treasury Select Committee, is announced.

The In Campaign, which officially launches its campaign on Monday, said Lord Rose would take up the position with immediate effect.

Lord Rose, who was chief executive of Marks and Spencer from 2004 to 2011 and is now chairman of online supermarket Ocado, said: ?Most people, myself included, will make a hard-headed, practical calculation in the coming referendum on what is best for the British people.

?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.?

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said: ?The In Campaign regard the recruitment of Lord Rose as their chair as a coup, not just because he?s a Conservative making the case for staying in the EU, but a businessman associated with some of the country?s most well known retail brands ? including Marks and Spencer, Argos and Ocado.?

Will Straw, executive director of the In Campaign, said Lord Rose brought ?unparalleled experience of business and enterprise? to the campaign, adding: ?He knows the value that Britain?s membership of the EU brings to businesses right across the UK, and what would be at risk if we left.?

Vote Leave, made up of Conservative, Labour and UKIP MPs and donors, launched its campaign on Friday.

Supporters of Vote Leave, which says it wants to negotiate a new deal based on free trade and friendly co-operation, include Labour?s Kate Hoey and UKIP?s Douglas Carswell.

It is competing with rival group, the UKIP-backed Leave.EU, to be the official Out campaign in the referendum.

The Electoral Commission has yet to designate the official campaigns on either side of the EU debate.

The chosen groups will benefit from increased spending limits of ?7m during the campaign period, campaign broadcasts and a free mailout to households.

They all get access to public meeting rooms and to the electoral register, and are entitled to public grants of up to ?600,000.

BBC

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