Answer: To avoid becoming the 51st state of the United States.
For all the current debate on Brexit in the run up to the referendum there is very little covering the decisions and thought processes that caused the UK to join the European project in the first place.
Who were the great enthusiasts for joining what was then the Common Market? Well, only virtually all the British politicians of the 1950s and 60s. McMillian, Wilson, Heath, basically everyone in both major parties.
That Special Relationship was quite different in the 50s and 60s.
After 1945 Britain went from being a rock solid wartime ally of the United States, wiling to share every technological secret in her inventory (Tizard Mission) to being frozen out of the US Bomb project, forced to repay Lend Lease early ("Washington suddenly and unexpectedly terminated Lend-Lease on 21st August 1945"), leaned on and humiliated during the Suez Crisis - and virtually ignored during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
It is no surprise then that the UK was at its most desperate to join the EU when US president Lyndon B. Johnson was trying to use economic pressure, mainly threats not to support sterling, to force Prime Minister Harold Wilson to support the American War in Vietnam.
"The years 1964-68, when the Labour government of Harold Wilson and the Democratic administration of Lyndon B. Johnson were in power, saw pronounced strain at the highest levels of Anglo-American bonds, caused to a significant extent by differences over America’s war in Vietnam. Opposition to the war within the Labour Party and among the British general public meant that the Wilson government could not satisfy the United States’ desire for support; certainly, London had to reject the frequent American requests for combat troops."
Parliament in the 1960s and 1970s saw a stark choice between becoming a major part of the European project or becoming a small client state of a belligerent super power - and they quite sensibly chose Europe.
What I'm sure the politicians of the 50s and 60s didn't foresee is UK government 30 years later voluntarily handing foreign policy and security to the 2003 equivalents of Henry Kissinger.
As I suggested in this post - the choice in the EU referendum is not between Europe, or sailing off into the distance as a powerful but small sovereign state in a world of massive trading blocks..
(The latter is just a daydream from somewhere back before 1914)
the referendum choice is between
the European sphere of influence, economics and politics
the North American version
And there are some smart Americans warning of exactly this
and some Americans eagerly anticipating it
In fact he's flying over the day of the vote to visit the property he already has in what may be soon independent Scotland.
Trump is joined in his enthusiasm for Brexit by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who you can be sure have your interests at heart.
Where am I on this? As demonstrated in my other post I'm conflicted but will vote to stay IN.
Truthfully I'm not massively optimistic either way in the Brexit vote but I'm prepared to make the best of it, (probably as an Englishman when the Scots vote to leave).
To our European friends if we do have a 'Trump vote' and leave via Brexit I hope we can be more supportive from outside than we ever were inside, and you know, look at the map - we're actually going nowhere.
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