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rexiteers should have been prepared for the shattering intervention of the US. It was Washington that drove European integration in the late 1940s, and funded it covertly under the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations.

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He wanted a united front to deter the Kremlin from further aggrandizement after Stalin gobbled up Czechoslovakia, doubly so after Communist North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded the South.

For British eurosceptics, Jean Monnet looms large in the federalist pantheon, the emminence grise of supranational villainy.

Like it or not, this is at least is strategically coherent.

The Schuman Declaration that set the tone of Franco-German reconciliation - and would lead by stages to the European Community - was cooked up by the US Secretary of State Dean Acheson at a meeting in Foggy Bottom.

"It all began in Washington," said Robert Schuman's chief of staff.