In the handful of days since the "renegotiation" agreement was announced, I think we have got a flavour of the referendum campaign. The Remainers have launched Project Fear and the Leavers are painting various pictures of what a post-referendum Britain might look like.
For my part, I have spent the time between the historic announcement outside Number Ten and now trying to work out what is going on. Two years ago the PM promised fundamental reform, and up until relatively recently hinted that he might be prepared to back Exit if the other EU nations did not come up with some of the goods. Yet, on the face of it, the "deal" is an empty vessel.
Post-deal, the PM has appeared to swing from being a Eurosceptic to threatening all sorts of calamity if we vote to leave. Even as he announced the agreement (or was it earlier, I forget) he admitted that Britain could thrive outside the EU, but that it could do even better within. Now that position appears to have been abandoned: it is EU or literally bust for Mr Cameron.
Some have accused Dave of lying; others have said he is deflecting from how little the agreement changes. He seems to have fallen out with his bessie mate, and appears to be genuinely furious that some of his colleagues are now campaigning for Out, and carrying large numbers of MPs and activists with them. Surely if Cameron had never intended to change anything, he would not be reacting this way.
The scare stories have an air of the desperate, and we are only a few days in. We should hear some real corkers in the final days of the campaign. It seems obvious to me that nobody is going to get stranded, The Terminal-style, on the day after the Article 50 period is up. Why would they? Are the French et al. really likely to stop recognising UK passports just because the final polish hasn't been put on an exit agreement? Of course not.
In the interests of ensuring that my decision on how to vote is properly informed, I am reading up and doing lots of thinking. As part of that I went over to EU Referendum (not a site I normally look at). They have a detailed plan for how to manage Brexit, called Flexcit. I haven't read the whole thing... but the introductory section reminds us of the background to this referendum.
The point I was reminded of is that there is a bigger picture. We are not voting to stay or leave a club which is in a steady state. What Britain seems to want is economic involvement in Europe (via the single market or something similar) without taking too much part in the political centralisation. Even EU Referendum concedes that for at least a transitional period the UK is likely to need to join the EEA on exit. So even quite hardcore Outers accept that at least at the start, the UK is not going to have complete control over its affairs.
Another issue is where will the EU go from here? If we vote to stay in will we get roped into more projects against our will, with no way to express our dismay because we have just voted to stay in?
But there is an even bigger EU story, of course: that of the reforms which are likely to happen to shore up the Eurozone. The Euro countries need to decide whether to integrate further or to break up the Euro - the current situation is clearly unsustainable beyond the very short term. Those countries will need a new arrangement and that will mean Treaty Change. When Treaty Change comes around, non-Euro countries will surely be relegated to a second-tier status within the EU that emerges. And of course Britain may be in a much stronger position to negotiate a looser arrangement when the new treaty will need to be agreed and ratified by all member countries.
So I can't help wondering whether the present referendum actually provides us with very little real choice. If we vote Out, we are likely to end up in the short- to medium-term in a kind of Norwegian status - outside the EU but deeply connected with it. In we vote In, we are likely to end up in the short- to medium term in a kind of Norwegian status - but formally inside a very different EU.
This idea may just join the dots. Mr Cameron's original plan to time a referendum to a major treaty change process has failed, but with major treaty change on the horizon perhaps he has been persuaded to sit on his hands for the moment. And if I'm right, then there is no particular reason to get exercised about this referendum one way or the other. There are likely to be others.