Driven by a desperate need to cut down expenses on diplomatic missions abroad in the face of a deepening economic crisis at home, Britain is to set up joint embassies with Canada paving the way for similar “cooperation” with other countries of the “Old” Commonwealth such as Australia and Canada.

The move would give Britain “a bigger reach abroad for less cost”, it was stated.

The Foreign Office said Britain and Canada had signed an agreement that would provide a “framework” for their overseas missions “to co-operate more closely, sharing admin costs for example, where appropriate to promote U.K. and Canadian interests”. The areas of cooperation would include “co-location, crisis response, security and consular” matters.

“This is part of the Government’s drive to deepen our relationships and improve our engagement with a number of Commonwealth allies across the full spectrum of foreign policy issues,” it said ahead of a formal announcement by Foreign Secretary William Hague in Canada.

In a statement, Mr. Hague recalled Prime Minister David Cameron’s remarks describing Britain and Canada as “two nations, but under one Queen and united by one set of values”.

“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,” he said.

The Foreign Office said that as part of a new initiative to expand British presence in Commonwealth countries, a new deputy High Commission was opened in Hyderabad in May, and another would open in Chandigarh later this year.

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