For all the late-night drama and political theatre in Brussels, the Prime Minister’s renegotiation appears to be nearing its conclusion. A deal will be presented and a referendum will follow.
For those who already hold strong views on Britain’s membership of the European Union, the details of Dave’s deal will be largely irrelevant. An outer is no more likely to be convinced of the merits of membership than an inner is to convert to the cause of Brexit.
Battle lines have already been drawn. Indeed, battle has already commenced. And yet, a sizeable selection of the electorate tells pollsters that they’ve yet to make up their minds on this most crucial issue.
Read more: What kind of EU referendum voter are you?
And who can blame them? The past few months have consisted of a shadow campaign, carried out in a political twilight zone. In the absence of a deal on which the referendum will be based, and even without a date for the referendum itself, the two campaigns have been road-testing strategies, sniping at each other and arguing among themselves.
But now, or soon at least, it really starts. The referendum, when it comes, will determine the future course of this country, and of Europe itself. The stakes could not be higher. This is no exercise in constitutional tinkering.
This is a profound choice. Regardless of the safeguards that the PM may or may not have secured, a vote to remain is a vote to bind ourselves to the European project. The alternative is to leap into the unknown and chart a new path. For some, the latter is a terrifying prospect. For others, it’s nowhere near as terrifying as the former.
Throughout the coming campaign, many interests and voices will vie for your attention. They will claim to speak on your behalf and they will claim to know what’s best for you. To help you through the coming onslaught, you can rest assured that this newspaper will interrogate both sides.
It will demand answers on the future of the City. It will interview key players and carry the opinions of both camps. It will challenge the claims made and analyse the issues raised. After eight months of political intrigue and diplomatic wrangling. it seems the debate of our lifetime is nearly over. Brace yourselves.