EU referendum: in/out line-up takes shape

The referendum on Britain’s EU membership took centre stage again this week as the campaigns for both sides set out their stalls.

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Stuart Rose has launched his campaign to keep Britain in the EU

The referendum on Britain's EU membership took centre stage again this week as the campaigns for both sides took shape. Former Marks & Spencer CEO Stuart Rose was unveiled as the chairman of "Britain Stronger In Europe", a cross-party group in favour of continued membership. It will include three former prime ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Major and several pro-EU business figures, including Richard Branson.

An "out" campaign known as "Vote Leave" has also emerged, run by Matthew Elliott, the head of eurosceptic lobbying group Business For Britain. It boasts donors and MPs from both sides of the political spectrum, along with renowned business figures, including Luke Johnson, founder of Pizza Express. Meanwhile, this week saw Lloyds chairman Lord Blackwell, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher and John Major, come out for "out".

What the commentators said

This divide is partly reflected in the "great Brexit punch-up" now taking place, said Sebastian Payne on Politico.eu. Vote Leave is squaring off against Leave.eu, the group hitherto associated with Farage and Ukip.

It looks as though Vote Leave is "much slicker" than its rival. Its wide range of supporters suggests it will be "a business-focused campaign with a broad message" focusing on the "safe, sensible business arguments". It appears to have the "media know-how [and] campaigning expertise to convince voters that Brexit is best for Britain". Leave.eu is expected to be subsumed into its new rival, said Economist.com. Then the battle will begin in earnest. With the polls very close, there is still "all to play for".

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