Please Help Me Out Here!

One problem with this from Tim Harford is that a broad, constructive, win-win deal that Theresa May can sell as a win to her coalition may not be in everybody's interest. The people of the EU have a short-run material interest in avoiding the economic pain of a disorderly Brexit. But the governance of the EU also has a short-run ideal interest that may be a long-run material, ideal, and existential interest in demonstrating that leaving the EU turns your country into a desperately dorky clown show. the governance of Ireland certainly believes that its material interest in avoiding disorderly Brexit is less important than its material interact in not endorsing and not allowing the EU to endorse border controls in Ireland.

Tim Harford—and Theresa May—may think that Britain is playing chicken with the EU. But it looks much more to me like Theresa May is reenacting the charge of the light brigade, having cast the EU as the bemused Russian cannoneers:

Tim Harford: Brexit as a Game of Chicken : "A second insight from Schelling: the difference between deterrence and what he called “compellence”. Deterrence dissuades action, but compellence means persuading or threatening someone so that they do act...

... In his 1984 book Choice and Consequence, Schelling pointed out that deterrence is easier. A deterred person does nothing, so need not admit that the deterrence worked, but a compelled person must visibly acquiesce. Unfortunately, the process specified under Article 50 leaves the UK in the awkward position of trying to achieve compellence. The default option is the car crash, a disorderly fracture with the EU. Anything else requires all 28 countries involved to take prompt constructive action. May and her chancellor Philip Hammond have made some (faintly) threatening noises about how the EU should play along, but such threats can only work if they compel an energetic and active response. That’s far from certain—compellence is hard.

Of course, a broad, constructive agreement is in everyone’s interest...