Game theory: Why Ireland’s refusal to take a side in the Scottish independence debate is the logical course of action

The government has been criticised for not taking an official stand in the matter of Scottish independence, pointing out that it’s an internal UK matter. Thing is, even if it wasn’t, having no position is logically the best course of action. After all, we want to remain in to UK’s good graces, but at the same time don’t want to alienate the Republic of Scotland should it come into existence.

So let’s take a look at the possible ways an official position could go down:


Scotland votes Yes Scotland votes No
Support England UK likes us, Scotland turns against us UK likes us
Support Scotland Scotland likes us, UK turns against us UK turns against us

So, if we absolutely had to choose one, the logical choice would be to come out against Scottish independence, which would lead to the best possible outcome of the status quo remaining the same. However, let’s add lack of an official position to the mix.


Scotland votes Yes Scotland votes no
Support England UK likes us, Scotland turns against us UK likes us
Support Scotland Scotland likes us, UK turns against us UK turns against us
Remain neutral UK likes us, Scotland is neutral to positive UK likes us

The UK does have a good relationship with Ireland, which probably would not be damaged were Scotland to gain independence; hence that status quo would remain the same. The Republic of Scotland, meanwhile, would have no reason to love or loath Ireland, allowing a good relationship to be cultivated.

So whatever happens, a position of official neutrality was the most sensible action.

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