Former UK prime ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Major are three key figures who will lend their support to the "yes" campaign, which will argue that Britain should remain in the European Union before the membership referendum in 2017. The three living former heads of state will be joined by The Apprentice start Karren Brady and former head of the army Sir Peter Wall.

It was announced yesterday (10 October) that the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign will be spearheaded by Lord Stuart Rose, the former boss of high street retailer Marks & Spencer, who is the initiative's chair.

Brady will be brought in for her business acumen as will Richard Reed, the co-founder of Innocent drinks. Sir Brendan Barber, the former general secretary of the TUC will also join the cause as will Janet Beer, the vice-chancellor of Liverpool University – both will sit on the board.

Others who will have key roles within the initiative include Green Party MP Carolyn Lucas, Lord Mandelson, Sir Danny Alexander, Damian Green and the PR guru Roland Rudd. They will be joined by the broadcaster Trevor Phillips, Megan Dunn, the president of the National Union of Students, TV presenter June Sarpong and Jenny Halpern the founder of Halpern PR. Jude Kelly, the artistic director of the Southbank Centre in London, will also join the board.

Non-board supporters include the chief executive of Easyjet Carolyn McCall and former police chief Sir Hugh Orde and Stephanie Flanders, the city economist who previously worked for the BBC.

Will Straw, executive director of Britain Stronger in Europe, said: "Britain Stronger in Europe is pleased to welcome some outstanding figures from across public life to join our team. With backgrounds in security, culture, business, the youth movement, trade unions, academia, and politics, our board are ready to make the case for why Britain is stronger, safer, and better off in Europe than we would be out on our own.

"We chose the name Britain Stronger in Europe because in the coming referendum we will make a positive and patriotic case that it is in Britain's interest to remain part of Europe."