The Independent reports today that a Group calling itself The Coalition for the Reform Treaty is being established. The report (here) suggests that it is being supported in “a personal capacity” (but then gives their company affiliation in brackets) by such as:

Sir Philip Hampton, (Sainsbury), Niall FitzGerald (Reuters), Sir Michael Bishop (BMI), Phillipe Varin (Corus), Roger Carr (Centrica), Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP) and Sir Mike Rake (KPMG )

The report quotes one Roland Rudd of Business for New Europe as saying:

“We have heard a lot of negative things about the treaty. Many are scare- stories or based on inaccuracies. We took the initiative to form this coalition to make a more positive case.”

The very curious thing about all this is that the so-called Coalition has absolutely no Internet presence. Googling it produces merely the report itself and a link to a blog by what appears a LibDem type called Jonathan Fryer (possibly the same person who stood as LibDem candidate for Leyton in 1992, coming third). Beyond that, zilch. How very odd.

Business for New Europe, however, does exist and it lists Rudd, a former FT journalist as its founding chairman. Fitzgerald holds an honorary KBE so it would seem he is not a British Citizen and one wonders therefore what his standing is in this matter. Hampton has close links to Labour, via Lord Sainsbury and having been responsible for the “Hampton Review” into regulatory inspection and enforcement published by the Treasury in 2005. Martin Sorrell is also close to New Labour having been in 1997 appointed an Ambassador for British Business by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. In 1999 he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment to serve on the Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership. He was Knighted in the Millennium New Year Honours list. Varin is boss of CORUS which has a huge vested interest in the sort of protectionist EU that is developing as the likes of Sarkozy try and ring-fence their industries. Other

Other luminaries of Business for New Europe include its Vice-Chairman Nick Butler, who is Chairman of the Centre for European Reform, a think-tank described by The Guardian as “by far the best of all EU think-tanks in London” and the FT, an uncritical mouth-piece itself for the EU, as “A think-tank with an increasingly influential role in the shaping of official policy”; Lord Jay of Ewelme who served as Permanent Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service from 2002 until July 2006, so we know whose side he is on; Isabella Moore, who chairs the DTI/Treasury sponsored Women’s Enterprise Panel, and amongst other roles, is a Board member of Advantage West Midlands, as well as being Vice-President of Eurochambres, the association of European Chambers of Commerce. She was awarded a CBE in 2004. Leon Brittain went native years ago as an EU Commissioner.

Stuart Popham sits on the EU Advisory Board for the Corporation of the City of London.Bryan Sanderson was Chairman of the Learning and Skills Council from 2000 to 2004. Peter Sutherland is a recipient of the Robert Schuman Medal for his work for European Integration, which suggests a rampant case of the EuroPox. Rosemary Thorne has been a member of The Financial Reporting Council and The Financial Reporting Review Panel, both quangos. Lord Tugenhadt has served as Chairman of the Advisory Council of The European Policy Forum. Bob Wigley is a member of the Senior Practitioner Committee of the Financial Services Authority.

Some of these may or may not be behind the self-proclaimed “Coalition”. If they are, one should look askance at their Government and EU links.

As for the Coalition, it is pertinent to ask why it should have so shadowy an existence: just why do they feel the need to announce themselves and yet remain essentially hidden in the cyber shadows. Will they reveal their links to Government and the EU when they do go online?

I think we should be told.