If you do some reaserch into the British Blue Streak and Black Arrow programms you will see that at the time Britain was well ahead of its competitors. Money and politics sank the project.
If you are interested in further reading get,
A Vertical Empire, The History of the UK Rocket and Space Programme by C.N. Hill. ISBN 1-86094-269-9
73 John G7HIA
PS/ no connection with the author or the publisher, just enjoyed the book.