Why Tomorrow's EU Referendum Is The Most Important Vote You'll Cast In Your Life

Political journalist, author and barrister Bobby Friedman on why you should head for the polling booth tomorrow - whatever your view

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In recent months, we in the UK have been forced to take a test of our survival skills that would frighten even Bear Grylls himself. Enduring the seemingly endless EU referendum campaign has been no mean feat, not least thanks to the scare stories and dodgy statistics that have been bandied around by both sides on a daily basis.

The good news is that come 7am tomorrow, the referendum will once again be about what we, the voters, think. In fact, that's what it should have been about all along, but somewhere along the way we ended up worrying about how many bananas are allowed in a bunch and obsessing about which way various celebrities are going to vote (Grylls has declared for Remain, in case you're wondering).

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Of course, it's not enough to believe that Britain should stay or go. It doesn't matter how many heartfelt Facebook posts you've written, it's only if you use your vote that you can influence the result. If you're halfway down the M4 to Glastonbury and realise that you forgot to pop into the polling station in the rush to get a decent tent pitch, you won't have any right to complain about the outcome.

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This is a contest where casting your vote really matters. A recent poll by ORB found that Remain was 7 points ahead of Leave amongst those certain to vote, but just 2 points ahead when all voters were taken into account – that's close enough to be within the statistical margin of error, putting the two sides neck and neck. It's likely that the eventual winner won't come down to who has the more compelling arguments – but which side's voters are better at putting the cross in the box.

Some people might say that, just because a vote is going to be close, it doesn't mean you have to take part. True, I've slept soundly despite not exercising my right to vote in the latest round of Big Brother evictions. But this is a contest where's there's a lot more at stake than Marco Pierre White Jr's libido.

This is a contest unlike any other that I've experienced in my lifetime. If the country makes a bad decision at a General Election, it can reverse it five years later. But the opportunity to vote on Britain's EU membership will almost certainly never come up again. If a General Election is like picking which of two companies in the same industry to work for, the referendum is the equivalent of choosing your career.

And the issues are far broader than in any other poll in recent history. In most General Elections, there is actually not all that much between the parties. In 2015, both the Conservatives and Labour promised to cut the deficit, increase spending for the NHS and renew Britain's nuclear deterrent. Meanwhile, the last UK-wide referendum, on the Alternative Vote, saw the country spend 3 months engaging in a snore-fest of a debate more suited to an A-level Politics classroom.

It couldn't be more different with Europe. The choice tomorrow is between two completely different world views: one, of a Britain seeking to boost its economy and exercise its power on the world stage as part of a larger organisation, working in partnership with others. The other sees the UK flying solo, with more independent control and greater sovereignty, but with fewer people on hand to take that journey with us.

The impact on us at an individual level will be fundamental, too – the vote isn't all about GDP and immigration statistics. It's not just that we have to abide by European laws and court decisions – the choice is bigger than that. The path that we take from tomorrow will set the tone for the sort of business we do, and where we do it, for the next 50 years.

The referendum will change the small and the large. It will influence the minutiae of our lives, like our ability to vape and buy e-cigarettes or the places we choose to go on holiday. But it will also determine where we can afford to live, the work that we do, and the people who will be part of our lives. Depending on which side you believe, the vote will either undermine the organisation that's prevented another world war, or put us at the whim of a Brussels-run European army.

It's not for me to tell you who deserves your vote – that's your decision. But as Keira Knightley, Will Greenwood and Lily Cole – basically my dream dinner party invite list right there – put it in a recent advertising campaign, if you don't vote, you allow everyone else to "fuck with your future". The politicians have had their say; now it's over to you.