Wednesday 17 January 2018

Former M&S boss says Brexit 'would cost every household thousands'

Warning: Lord Stuart Rose
Warning: Lord Stuart Rose

James Tapsfield

The campaign to keep Britain in the EU is formally launching with a warning that exit would be a "leap in the dark" and cost every household in the UK thousands of pounds.

Unveiling his team fighting for an "in" vote at the looming referendum, businessman Lord Stuart Rose will brand those wanting to leave the union "quitters".

He will also dismiss the idea that there is a "patriotic" case for withdrawing from the EU.

Europhiles and Eurosceptics have been drawing battle lines as they gear up for what could be a long and attritional campaign. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold the decisive vote by the end of 2017 - but some have suggested it could happen as early as next spring.

Former Marks & Spencer chief Mr Rose will announce the membership of the board of the new 'Britain Stronger In Europe' group at an event in London.

It features representatives from all sectors of UK society - including West Ham United vice-chairwoman and Apprentice star Karren Brady, and June Sarpong, a panellist on ITV's 'Loose Women'.

Former prime ministers John Major, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are support- ing the drive. Mr Rose will tell the event that he believes the EU has to change.

"Those of you who know me will know that I am not an uncritical fan of the European Union. Far from it. That's why I signed a letter arranged by Business for Britain calling for reform of the EU," he will say.

"Wanting reform, however, is not the same as wanting to leave. Make no mistake: I am part of this campaign because I believe that we are stronger, better off and safer inside Europe than we would be out on our own."

Mr Rose will reject the idea of a choice between patriotism and EU membership.

"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 say.

"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." He will cite CBI business group's estimates that the benefits of trade, investment, jobs and lower prices mean membership is worth £3,000 per year on average to every UK household.

"When you consider that our annual contribution is equivalent to £340 per household, our contribution to the EU is an investment on which British families get a 10-to-one return," he will add.

Irish Independent

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