The news that Britain and Canada are to found joint embassies, an arrangement that could be extended to Australia and New Zealand, has commendable logic. Joint embassies could help dilute the residue of the imperial past that still haunts UK diplomacy in certain parts of the world. It could also save the cash-strapped Foreign Office money. It's win-win, as they probably wouldn't say in an FCO dispatch.
The way in which the project is being spun, however – as a counterweight to the EU's joint diplomatic operation, the External Action Service – seems designed to placate the Tory Eurosceptic right. In fact, the thinking behind the EAS has much the same logic as joint UK embassies with Commonwealth countries: a desire to streamline and the need to economise. There are strong arguments for the Foreign Office to be fully engaged in both enterprises. They should not be seen as either-or.