God love them, but you can’t help but always feeling yourself reddening slightly when you see what British eurosceptics regard as a great victory. Apparently (reported here) British foreign secretary William Hague has suggested to Canada that Britain and Canada, where possible, could share embassy facilities. As a pragmatic use of limited finanaces, Hague is to be applauded for the idea. Of course, that’s not how eurosceptics see it, instead as a f**k you to Brussels and the External Action Service.
Presumably Canada will require that all her citizens, both French and English speaking, be able to use the UK facilities, so Hague will have to ensure that every British embassy covered by the deal will have to be able to deal with queries from French-Canadians, right? In fairness to the FCO, there probably is no shortage of French speakers, but I can imagine the knuckle-draggers on the Tory right getting a little upset at the requirement for British diplomats to be able to conduct their duties in French.
Having said that, perhaps this embassy sharing lark could have wings. I could easily see President Hollande invite First Minister Salmond to Paris to discuss Scotland perhaps appointing formal representatives to some key French embassies, say in Washington, Tokyo, etc. Probably not in Paris’s actual competitive interest to do so, but I’m sure the sight of Alex Salmond being met with full imperial pomp in Paris would be just enough to irritate the Tory right, which is always fun in itself.
The Tory right are “claiming” the former Commonwealth countries as natural partners for such a project, but I think Ireland should get in on this. Ireland and a like-minded country like, say, New Zealand, should consider sharing embassies. We’re not in direct competition that much, and both countries have similar “small nation” views of the world. They get us a base in the Pacific, and we get them a look-in with the Eurozone, in a way the Brits can’t. And we can offer the Kiwis something else the Brits can’t: we’ll treat them as equals.