By a Newsnet reporter
The UK Government, represented by Foreign Secretary William Hague, will today sign an agreement in Ottawa with the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to allow the UK and Canada to share embassies in third countries. The measure is intended expand the global presence of both countries while keeping costs down.
As part of the agreement, in countries where the UK has a diplomatic presence but Canada does not, the two states will share the embassy or consulate – and vice versa. The UK Government has already signalled its intention to sign similar deals later this year with Australia and New Zealand, allowing the four Commonwealth members to pool their embassy and consular resources.
In a statement, Mr Hague said:
“We have stood shoulder to shoulder from the great wars of the last century to fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and supporting Arab Spring nations like Libya and Syria. We are first cousins. So it is natural that we look to link up our embassies with Canada’s in places where that suits both countries. It will give us a bigger reach abroad for our businesses and people for less cost.
“As the Prime Minister said when addressing the Canadian Parliament last year: ‘We are two nations, but under one Queen and united by one set of values.'”
A spokesperson for the Canadian Government said:
“At a time when governments around the world face more demands for their foreign investments than there are funds, collocating with our most trusted allies and making the most of our shared resources makes perfect sense. It increases our diplomatic reach in a cost-efficient way.”
The deal is another blow to claims by anti-independence parties, who have asserted that in the event of Scottish independence, Scotland would lose out on access to UK embassies around the globe, and would face the expense of building its own embassy network from scratch.
The Scottish Government maintains that an independent Scotland would be entitled to a proportional share of the UK’s embassies and consulates. The fact that the UK Government has now signed a deal with another independent nation to share embassies sets a precedent for an independent Scotland to share embassy facilities with the rump-UK.