By Jonathan Davies

The President of the CBI has called on British businesses to "speak out early" in support of the UK remaining part of the EU.

Speaking to 1,000 businessmen, businesswomen and politicians at the CBI annual dinner tonight (Wednesday), Sir Mike Rake will call on businesses to "be crystal clear that membership is in our national interest".

He is expected to say that there are "no credible alternatives" to the UK's membership with the EU.

An in-out referendum on the UK's membership is expected to take place before the end of 2017, however there have been calls for it to take place sooner.

Sir Mike will say: "The question is not whether the UK would survive outside the EU, but whether it would thrive.

"Reform will not happen overnight, but by working with our allies on an ambitious, yet achievable, agenda, we can make it a reality."