Two thousand and sixty four days have passed since the Conservative Party’s surprise majority in the 2015 general election, which gave us the referendum on membership of the European Union. 

It’s a long time to be talking about something which, in truth, the overwhelming majority of people in the country didn’t really care about.

Most people do not define their lives by this issue. Indeed, the only reason EU membership is even on our radar is that we were used by the Tories to fix their enduring internal struggle. 

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Now, we are at the beginning of the end, or at least the end of the beginning. A deal has been done.

Now, we move on to the phase of analysing and understanding the consequences. For this purpose, yesterday’s votes at Westminster and Holyrood are largely irrelevant. 

Such occasions always generate more heat than light. Great tactical discussions dominate the build up, as each party tries to assess how they can twist votes and quotes for social media memes and election leaflets. 

Meanwhile, outside the bubble we won’t think much about how an individual party voted in Parliament.

What matters more is how closely the consequences of Brexit mirror the predictions of the political parties. 

Not only will that ultimately determine the success of leaving the EU, it will also be a critical determinant of whether or not Scotland remains in the UK.

For the Scottish Tories, it has been a shaky week. The scrapping of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), has been a crutch for them, in their belief that a rejuvenation of Scotland’s fishing communities – economically small but socially and politically significant in urban as well as rural areas – would be the electoral saving grace of Brexit.

However, the fishermen are not dancing on the piers. Having lauded the potential of Brexit for fishing communities, they say the deal falls short.

This matters, at least for the moment. In time, though, the key to that issue is the simple question of whether the deal is better than being in the CFP. 

When the dust settles, it is likely that the fishing communities will grumble about a bad deal, but will ultimately accept it over going back in. Fool me once, and all that.

For this reason, and a host of others, Brexit may not be the dagger to the heart of the UK union that the SNP hopes.  On the face of it, being the primary party of Remain in a country which voted that way makes a lot of sense. 

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However, polling shows us that sentiment on the UK plays a larger role in voting patterns than sentiment on the EU; in other words, vast quantities of Remain voters will vote No in an independence referendum despite Scottish independence being their only ticket back into the EU, and conversely similar quantities of Leave voters will vote Yes to Scottish independence despite the threat of rejoining the EU that adjoins it.

More importantly, the SNP may well be proven to have oversold the impact of Brexit. 
The sky did not come tumbling down the day after the Brexit referendum, as many said it would, nor did it come tumbling down when the UK formally left last January, nor will it come tumbling down tomorrow on our first day in a post-transition world.

Indeed, for the great majority life outside the EU will bear a striking resemblance to life inside it. 

This is a problem for the SNP; when you claim that this is the end of the world as we know it, and then it isn’t, you tend to lose credibility. 

By the time we arrive at May’s Scottish Parliament election, I rather suspect that people will be well on their way to realising that Brexit hasn’t made much difference.

More importantly for the SNP, they may by then wish that they had adopted a more subtle tone. Because, of course, telling the country the sky will fall in when the UK leaves the EU but that conversely the sun will shine brightly when Scotland leaves the UK is a Swiss cheese argument. 

The SNP now, in my view, needs to fairly rapidly pivot to a different position whilst maintaining some consistency with its anti-Brexit past.

I’d start, perhaps counter-intuitively, by talking less about the EU, for two reasons.

The first is that the SNP needs to convince those soft Unionists, who voted No last time, to switch to Yes. For that group of people, constitutional change needs to be de-risked. 

They need to feel like they can vote Yes and in return witness an evolution rather than a revolution. They will want the pattern of their lives to be broadly similar outside the UK as inside it, just as it will be broadly similar outside the EU as inside it. They want to be able to feel British outside the UK, just as they will likely still feel as European tomorrow as they do today.

Secondly, nationalists should think carefully before linking Scotland’s independent future so intimately to membership of the EU, because that presumed outcome is highly uncertain.

Scotland’s EU membership will almost certainly come with a long, thick string attached: Customs Union membership. 

And Customs Union membership almost certainly involves some form of border with non-member states. 

Does the SNP see the people of Scotland, with all their cultural, social and economic links to England, accepting this? Northern Ireland is different; we can’t bury the border in the sea.

Scotland may well leave the UK, but if it does I’d put a modest bet on us joining Norway in the European Free Trade Association, gaining access to the single market through the European Economic Area without membership of the Customs Union (or, notably, the CFP).

This could be presented as a stepping stone to full EU membership, in order to pacify those thirled to the EU. But, of course, that’s what Norway used to say; now Norwegians are so opposed to joining the EU that opinion pollsters rarely even bother to ask them the question.

Leaving the EU is an important chapter of Scotland’s constitutional story. But it may not be the political twist that everyone seems to think.