Re: EU friends apparantly
When we still had a viable launcher, the US promised the U.K. free access to American rockets. The offer was withdrawn almost immediately once Black Arrow was scrapped.
Well, the Blue Streak / Black Arrow project was intended to produce an ICBM. The whole thing was deeply flawed; solid fuel boosters were obviously better, and Britain simply doesn't have the right geology (we're mostly mud) for building silos able to withstand a first strike. The idea of a liquid fuelled ICBM was a dead end (quite literally).
Also at the time it was far from clear that there was going to be big money in the commercial launch sector. Turns out, there isn't (SpaceX's margins aren't that great), at least not in comparison to building big geosats. Satellites are something we've become very successful at, thanks to a big government investment back in the 1980s, and make good money out of.
And besides that, bits of Blue Streak were still being used on Ariane 4, so we had a direct hand in that business for a loooong time.
It's better to specialise in the valuable parts of business, rather than the whole thing where margins are small.