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Game Theory in Brexit


This article applies simple prisoner’s dilemma in Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The two prisoners are the two Tory factions, the Remainers and Brexiteers. The article claims that if both fraction vote against the Brexit proposal, there might be some political cost, and it may lead to a leadership election. On the other hand, it is unlikely that both fraction support the proposal, because it will be at a higher political cost as everybody fundamentally dislikes something about it. Thus, if the two fractions cooperate, May’s Brexit proposal will not pass. The article further points out that Theresa May can put the two fractions in a situation that they don’t cooperate. To be specific, she could convince both fractions that if they vote for her then they get what they want or they get nothing. In this sense, Remainers will support her deal because it is the lowest cost option. The Brexiteers will also back her to prevent getting no outcome.

This article connects to the lecture in that it touches on simple game theory and uses a simple prisoner’s model to shows how such a model can be applied in real-world politics. The situation is more dynamic than the original prisoner’s dilemma in that the payoff of each prisoner varies according to what Theresa May promises. However, a simple model like this cannot capture the complexity of real world. For example, the model assumes that there are only two choices while in reality, one can vacillate in their preferences or give up their vote. Also, the factors determining each fraction’s payoff are also highly complex, and it pretty much depends on how an individual views the situation.


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November 2018