Thanks Mike, good to see people giving it some proper head space. Ultimately though I think your focus to be too narrowed. Concentrating on just the aspirations of some die hard federalists for a USE can obstruct the view of the short to medium term in which nothing is pointing towards a continuation of the status quo.
Considering the potential upheavals on the horizon the EU as a whole might need all the friends it can get. Germany faces a potential disturbance with Merkel’s popularity plunging, Greece is still in dire need of more attention and looks to want to properly exit, Spain still has no government, a continuing unsustainable strain on the south from the refugees coming from Middle East, Russia’s capability and seemingly willingness to aggress more into the Baltics and of course a lot more downward pressure on the Euro via underperforming economies (in particular Italy and the real threat of Grexit). To be outside the circle within the EU when it attempts to address these major impending issues is not in the self interest of the UK. It needs to be at the table when anything that would harm the UK’s self interest is being discussed and decided (and whether you like it or not the EU surrounds the UK and the UK is actually part of Europe so ultimately some of those decisions will directly affect the UK whether she be in the EU or not) .
The UK should be within the EU with it’s most stable currency (that is not the Euro, i.e. the £) to be perfectly poised to accept inward wealth should confidence in the Euro plummet (which it will). UK has had the best of both worlds being within the EU while still being able to opt-out, this is the best possible position. Opting-out squanders any opportunities that might arise from being in the right place should EU need to rely heavily on the UK and subsequently having the stronger negotiating hand at such a point.
Should the EU make a considered push towards a proper USE (which I seriously doubt will happen anytime soon) then of course it may well be within the UK’s interest to leave but it certainly is not now, not at this time.