An ice-cold take on GE17 in Scotland (Scottish Politics)

I’ve no enthusiasm for writing on the June 2017 General Election, so this is going to be ‘A Cold Take’, I want to be dispassionate and factual as far as I can.

Let’s start with the Map. It was 2015’s favourite image for the Yes community.

Not as fun in 2017. Tory gains in Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and much of what was Grampian Region together with the clumps of Stirling and Ochils and South Perthshire are obvious. 

There’s red for Labour in Fife, Lothians and Glasgow. Orange Lib Dem gain in Caithness and Sutherland. 

It’s not one the SNP will enjoy, the constituencies lost are large territories when seen in a map graphic. 

Another comment to make is the merged blue of the borderlands.


Next up, the change in vote share from 2015 to 2017. 

Obviously to lose seats The SNP are down and again obviously, the Tories are up. 

There’s a small gain by Labour and a small loss by the Lib Dems.

But, and this is the ‘no shit sherlock’ bit, 13% SNP loss and 13% Tory gain.

 A switcheroo? Possibly, but did 13% of SNP voters go directly Tory? 

Some, might want you to think that. I wouldn’t. 


Here’s Turnout. Generally the darker, the more it was.

 Look at central Scotland diagonally upwards from the crook of Galloway to the outcrop of Fife. All lighter colours.

I’ll admit to disliking these hexagons, but across much of Scotland the turnout was down, as in grey, and in some areas really badly as in black. 

It doesn’t match the actual geography well but it tells the story better than the physical map coloured up.


This baddy shows the seats that changed hands. It’s not dissimilar to the first map, but it’s clarity is in showing the wins/losses. 

The SNP did hang onto a lot of seats. Tory gains are big in area, Labour gains are threatening Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the Lib Dem ones seem rather random.

Key points from all those maps and graphs.

  1. The SNP lost 21 Seats
  2. The Tories gained 13.
  3. Labour gained 6.
  4. Lib Dems gained 3.
  5. Scottish Turnout 66.4% 
  6. UK turnout 68.7%
  7. SNP largest party 35/59 seats
  8. SNP took 38.9% of votes

So, that’s the inconvenient truths out the way, most important is that turnout was down across the country. 

One example is Glasgow North. Paul Sweeney won the seat with 242 votes on a 50.3% turnout. 

Contrast with Ian Murray holding his Edinburgh South seat on a 74.1% turnout. 

Some others..

East Lothian 70.6% Labour Gain.
Aberdeen North 59.2% SNP hold.

Aberdeen South 68.5% Tory Gain.

Aberdeenshire West 71.2% Tory Gain.

Coatbridge etc. 63.3% Labour Gain, Majority 1,586.

Airdrie and Shotts 59.2% SNP hold, Majority 195.

The script from me here is:-

  1. Motivated versus unmotivated voters in a constituency, see Aberdeen North and South and the shire part seat.
  2. Targeted gains by parties 
  3. Narrow SNP gains AND losses
  4. Labour’s defence of Murray in Edinburgh on a higher turnout and unexpected win in Glasgow on a near 50% turnout 
  5. Lanarkshire on a knife edge, a swing one way is a hold, another is a Labour Gain.

We can talk politics to the interested. 

Truth is a long campaign when added with the local council elections probably didn’t make people want to bother. An eight week long campaign all told.

We know the Tories were biggest gainers, but hey, who called it in first place?

Defending Seats is a harder task than gaining. People are motivated by change. Not so much by keeping in the guy you have.

Tactical Voting played a part. Labour and Lib Dem voters came out and voted Tory. They were as good as told to. No need for tactical Voting wheels.

The graphics used by the Tories worked. They weren’t always strictly the situation, but the public grasped that they could make their dent in an incumbent SNP seat.

I, called it wrong before Thursday night. I didn’t think there could be more than 10 losses for the SNP.  I thought the exit poll was a stinker, I was way wrong.

The obviously noisy seats were ones that Labour, Tories and Lib Dems were after. The ones where the activity was greatest and resources were thrown into.

Labour may have benefited from Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal which is ironic given Ian Murray refusing to serve in his Shadow Cabinet and the mainly Blairite leadership in Scotland opposing him. The ‘for the many’ slogan appeared in Scotland in a photo opportunity after the Election.

For me the ‘ failure’ from the SNP and loss of seats was for these reasons.

  1. Timing of election. The GE followed hard on the Council elections and the party had its eye on both elections.
  2. Opponent targeting. The Tories clearly have software and data and used it well. They went for bang for buck. It wasn’t entirely opportunist, but they had benefit of knowing when election would be and they used it.
  3. Corbyn effect. He attracted soft ‘yes’ voters. It changed some seats and dented majorities in others.
  4. ‘No second referendum’ – it played louder than a message on Brexit or the competence and ability of the SNP MP group
  5. The echo chamber of social media. Again, SNP supporters and Yessers hear each other very clearly but not the whole noise pattern. 
  6. Turnout. Grass roots canvassing got lots of sentiment on the doorsteps, but didn’t work to make voters come out. In some seats this was disastrous and particularly reflects in the turnouts in the central belt of Scotland. 
  7. Resource. Targeting seats to defend is one thing, but big hitters like Angus Robertson, Alex Salmond and John Nicholson were targeted by the SNPs opponents and tumbled. In contrast Alistair Carmichael and David Mundell held on against good candidates.

I’m not an SNP member. I’ve no reason to sugar coat it and hopefully I’ve been truthful and useful in my analysis.

The key seems to be find a clear message, stick with it. Analyse each seat, get turnout.

It’s tough when the national media do leader interviews based on competence in devolved matters.

It’s tough when Labour come from dead to having an appealing socialist message. (Stealing a few policies)

It’s tough when the Tories out-bastard you. 

They certainly did and the good people of the north east of Scotland may need reminded about Free Prescriptions, care for elderly, university tuition etc etc as clearly they’ve taken heed of a distaste for a second referendum but might not know why it’s needed.

Personality attack aren’t nice, but there’s a cult of nicknames around the First Minister as there was with her predecessor. It’s not nice, but being nice doesn’t get you what you want.

The Tories weren’t slaughtered on Brexit. Weren’t slaughtered on the effects of losing EU membership and weren’t slaughtered over Benefits and the uncaring society created since 2010.

Labour weren’t slaughtered on being a shambles for the last seven years. They weren’t slaughtered for being unionist. They weren’t slaughtered for meekly accepting brexit.

In a Westminster election, the SNP aren’t a party of government. There’s no record to defend, no case to answer. If people aren’t happy, it’s the Tory Government. If they’re unhappy on a devolved matter, well you’ve mitigated the Tory cuts.

I’ll admit my disappointment and my surprise at the results.

If there’s another election in October, Plenty can be gained, it’s there to take back, but get your voters out and motivated. Target. 

Drive at Labour and Tories on their failings and inconsistencies. Defend Scotref robustly. What other option is there if the bananas brexit referendum is to be applied?

Be clear, consistent, go beyond the TV and papers. Don’t trust Twitter as a medium. Use data. Use maps, use numbers.

Here endith my chill.

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Dissolve. 

14:48 16th March 2016.

I look and I wonder at things during the day, I can’t follow twitter news all day obviously, but I saw the headlines, clicked the little ‘x’ button and continued on with my day.

I get to later on and wonder what’s been happening. We’re in a strange time. We know reality in our day to day lives. 

The narrative that politicians place and particularly those in the UK Government, just doesn’t resonate with truth and respect. 

A tale about leaving the EU is one thing, but a tale about the UK getting the best deal for Scotland is another tale entirely. 

I almost typed ‘whopper’ there.

It’s a stretch to see, Mrs May might sincerely believe that she’s following    the Brexit vote and taking a line of unity and strength to give a strong negotiating position in future to achieve a post Brexit deal with the EU. I see that. It’s her position.

Now, this one. It’s a stretch too, the Edinburgh agreement followed the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, a firm and clear majority of MSPs within an electoral system designed not to give such a majority. 

Alec Salmond as First Minister had a clear and unequivocal right to have a referendum on independence.

We know the outcome and the story and the aftermath. The outcome in the Smith Commission wasn’t fair. 

The vote at 55/45 wasn’t decisive, it was open and similar to brexit guilt, there was indyref guilt, many voting from ignorance, many thinking it wouldn’t do any harm.

The morning after though, didn’t see concession toward ‘Home Rule’ as some in Scotland seemed to have thought. The margin was thought enough to be decisive. 

Tories pushed the issue of it being ‘once in a generation’, the aftermath was simply and literally EVEL. 

English Votes for English Laws, an assertion that Westminster still called the shots and that influence and voting by non English MP’s over England only issues as the Labour Party had regularly until then done wasn’t to be tolerated.

2014 became 2015, the ‘indyref guilt’ fed through in the elections for Westminster. 

An unprecedented SNP number of MP’s across the country 56/59. A wipe out for Labour.

But, England and Wales went Tory. David Cameron no longer needed a coalition, he no longer had to be moderated by Clegg and his liberals, he had a majority and he decided to tackle head on the thorny issue of Brexit.

What Cameron didn’t realise was that he was opening the bottle, releasing the genie. 

I’ve visited England a fair bit in recent years, going to theme parks, visiting London, seeing relatives in Oxfordshire, travelling through to go to France.

I’ve visited England since childhood for one reason or another, but in the past few years it’s felt different. 

Yes, it has familiar road signs and shops sell the same stuff with the same currency, but there was more people and busier towns and cities and insane traffic jams. 

The economic recovery after the bank crash happened down there, it thrived. Factories, Works, Offices, Business Parks Dualled Roads, Motorways.

London was nothing like I recalled as a teenager, it was cleaner, full of wonders and busy, teeming.

Across the way, people in shops, theme parks and restaurants served me, some English, some not, some white, some not. Accents with European, African and Asian lilts and wonder of wonders the occasional Scot.

The diversity of people amazed me and the odd time my accent caused issues. Thankfully, never that often.

But, reality bites and the economic wonder in the south of England has to be seen and it’s different and strange compared to the West of Scotland that I know from everyday life.

It’s different to the Scotland most British-Unionist Scots know too. 

You see a world class transport system in London that is modern and efficient but creaks with numbers. We have nothing like it in comparison in Scotland.

Shopping districts and centres in London that are far ahead of anything we have. 

Economic confidence and a sheer power that generates tradesmen, businesses and opportunities.

But, back to the script. Brexit worked through disaffection, as I said many service jobs in retail and hospitality had different people from different places, sometimes the brightest and best, sometimes someone just willing to take every hour they can get as a chambermaid or a bartender.

It’s visible and different place to Scotland being relatively more homogeneous and relatively less busy and relatively different.

We can throw a pile of reasons at Brexit. That Bus. The NHS promise, personality politics of Boris and ‘ol Nigel. 

It worked, Cameron’s once in a generation gamble on putting Tory splits over Europe to bed failed. 

The Eurosceptics rose and in a rare moment of Tory instability, we even saw the likes of Andrea Leadsom throe their Top Hats into the ring after a truly awesome turn of revenge made on Johnson and Gove for their backstabbing of Cameron. 

After all Tories have gotta Tory.

Now, as part of Better Together in 2014, statements were made.

Ah, but ‘Better Together’ was a cross-party group working together to keep Scotland in the Union. 

It wasn’t any single party. It wasn’t any single policy. It was at arms length to Labour, it was at arms length to the Tories. 

It was plausible deniability.

It was a creation of that moment. It’s promises won’t be upheld (after all, no-one ever bothered to deletethat twitter account.) in exactly the way that the infamous Vow won’t be upheld. 

The words of Gordon Brown’s ‘Home Rule’ tour won’t be honoured either.


An infamous front page.

Brown’s realisation that The Smith Commission didn’t deliver.

So, we are where we are. 

The Vow wasn’t delivered, some Scots thought voting No was a path to a slower, surer safer version of Home Rule.

Brexit, in contrast was delivered with gleeful Speed 

Ms Sturgeon painted as irrelevant as were the first ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland. Devolved territories weren’t about to be consulted as equals.

62% of Scots wanted to remain in the EU. Leaders of ‘Scottish Labour’ and ‘Scottish Conservatives’ campaigned for Remain.

However, after the dust cleared, after their parties settled their leadership issues, both Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson followed the line of their UK parties. 

They painted the SNP as using Brexit solely as an excuse for independence.

There’s no clear plan for Brexit, nothing in place. 

As a follower of David Allen Green and his Law and Policy tweets and his reasoned and cleverly written articles, I’ve seen nothing that convinces me that The Department for Exiting The European Union has the resource, leadership or wit to make a competent job of doing so.

Gina Miller was vilified by the English press to the extent that even her skin tone was made darker on photographs on front pages.

The UK Supreme Court was seen as an impediment to Brexit. The case brought by Ms Miller served to show the inept thinking in Whitehall.

Theresa May pressed on and ultimately The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill passed through the Commons and the Lords and this morning received Royal Assent.

I may have the wrong document, but the Bill is as below 


Yup, as short as a side of A4. No detail no context, no coverage of issues, nothing at all.

That is what Westminster and the press and media and everyone has been trumpeting in hundreds and thousands of fevered words.

It’s a triumph of whitewash. A triumph of style beyond substance.

I was born a few days before the UK entered the EEC. The European Communities Act is massive. 

So are the treaties creating the EU and so is the document that allows the Article 50 notification to be served.

Are Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP really so unreasonable to believe Brexit is based on nothing?

Are they so unreasonable to ask for permission for another referendum based on the situation materially changing from 2014?

We are in a land beyond sense and reason where the Queen has signed Royal Assent to a one page act permitting Theresa May to serve the Notification?

We have seen the UK Supreme Court  thwarted by the passage of this sliver of paper.

It’s madness to me. Ultimately I can’t see discussion and compromise over Brexit. 

The Tories won’t ‘U Turn’ on this, there’s no ‘soft landing’ to be had.

The EU won’t topple. 

The EU won’t hesitate to say bye bye to the UK. There’s not a ‘deal’ to be had. 

Free Markets come with Free Movement. The ‘common market’ isn’t a separate thing to be negotiated into.

The statements from Brussels and from EU member countries are pretty clear. There’s no mixed method based only on commerce and trade.

If we’re at an impasse. If we can’t make Westminster see sense, then it’s time to dissolve the Union.

Our opinions and views and desires aren’t served by it. It is not the country we thought it was. It is not the family of nations that some claim it to be.

We need #Scotref, we deserve to have our opinion on this Brexit before it removes our rights and abilities in Europe.

What now? (Scotland and Brexit)

So, we’ve heard Theresa May’s explanation of what exactly brexit means. It’s a total Brexit, hard Brexit, clean Brexit. 

In the summer we were asked..

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

Remain 48% Leave 52% across the UK.

So, leaving the European Union means what? 

An end to the ‘Single Market’ across Europe and the four freedoms of movement that go with it. Goods, Services, Capital and People.

The free movement of goods involves a Customs Union and a Free Trade Area across the EU states.

Services can be provided across EU states by establishing a company in one state.

In financial services, operating in one EU member state gives a ‘Passport’ to operating in other states.

Free movement of Capital means individuals and businesses can invest across the EU if they choose to.

For goods, services and capital common standards to harmonise each countries existing laws or technical standards are required.

Freedom of movement for people across the EU means an initial period of three months unconditional residency in another country and if they are then employed, self employed or are studying then they can stay in that country. 

If the person lives there without incident for 5 years then they are eligible for citizenship of the country they now live and work in. 

The freedom of movement isn’t unrestricted and is subject to details of the Free Movement Directive. You have to prove you’re self sufficient in the country that you move to.

Then to make it fair across the EU, there are Competition and Consumer laws to make the Single Market fair and to protect consumers.

So.. after all that explanation, is that what ‘the majority’ of people in the UK voted for?

Probably the biggest issue was freedom of movement of people.

Politicians have talked of access to the single market without reference to all the four freedoms or the freedom of movement.

Politicians have talked of access to the customs union alone or the free trade area alone. 

That’s been repeatedly blocked by EU politicians and leaders of EU states. 

It has led Theresa May to make her statement that the UK will be outside the EU. 

The EU has relationships with non members such as Switzerland and the EFTA states including Norway and Iceland.

But, what relationship or agreement will the UK have with the EU? May made statements on funding and laws and a great repeal act.

Now not every EU piece of legislation needs repealing. Why remove laws on toys being safe or cars operating safely or for foods to be made safely?

It’s a lot of things that regulate quietly and day after day work for us. 

Potentially a huge treaty is required to continue trading to the Customs Union and Single Market. 

A great deal of negotiation lies after Article 50 is served.

Scotland voted to remain in the EU as did Northern Ireland.

The detailed options provided by the Scottish Government have largely been ignored by May and her Government.

Northern Ireland’s parliament has been brought down following a financial scandal, but the importance of the current Soft Border with the Irish Republic can’t be ignored. 

A removal from a Customs and Trade union has more difficulties with a land border and whilst the UK and Ireland currently have a common travel area. Other arrangements will be necessary.

For me, it’s clear from Mays statement and her Prime Minister’s Questions afterward that there’s no further prospect that Scotland’s viewpoint will be listened to, or that any amount of questions in that parliament or speeches will make a difference.

If Article 50 is served in April and two years formal notice to quit runs from there with the SNP MP’s effectively sidelined at Westminster whilst the UK transitions toward the full brexit, then that takes us very close to the next Westminster election due under the fixed 5 year terms.

If an independence referendum isn’t called within that period, then much momentum is lost.

I wonder if the feeling and sentiment from losing the EU will be capitalised upon. It seems crazy not to.

The Relevance of Jeremy Corbyn and the Progress ‘Chicken Coup’ to Scotland.

It’s been all over the mainstream media for weeks, Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet resigning on hourly intervals, 172 members of the parliamentary Labour Party not backing their directly elected leader. The Eagle leadership contest, Owen Smith.

So, what’s the relevance for Scotland.

None, Nil, Nothing, Zip, Nada.

Beardy as I call him on Twitter, ain’t our problem. He’s leader of a toothless divided ‘official opposition’ at Westminster that has been ineffective on opposing Austerity, has seen Brexit happen and has seen Trident renewed whilst the MoD plays coy on contracts for building Frigates on the Clyde.

They deserve a snap election call from Theresa May to wipe them out in Westminster.

Anyway, that’s plenty. Keeping Scotland in the EU is enough to do without needless distraction.

Whilst I’m saying ‘needless distraction’, Labour in Scotland’s plan for the post Brexit situation would be funny if they weren’t serious. Saying the independence matter is settled, then saying we’re along for the ride on Brexit, more housing should be built by bringing forward infrastructure spending from the devolved budget and finally a grandiose talking shop to decide what to do, whilst raising tax in Scotland by a penny in the pound. Sorry, but that’s not a plan, it’s hot air, wind, distraction and bluster which no doubt the BBC in Scotland and the Scottish MSM will lap up.

Right.. Back to the reality.


Brexit’s ‘legal mechanisms’ and Scotland.

A number of cases have been raised at the England and Wales High Court protesting about Brexit, the need for an Act of Parliament vote and the non binding nature of the referendum. I don’t believe that these cases can progress at that level, I wrote some thoughts a few weeks ago using the Hanx typing app, to make them readable, I decided to blog them too.

At the point of writing the Tory leadership contest was ongoing. 

What if we get a Tory PM willing to push the button?

Whitehall will have had time to advise them.

Can they serve the EU with Article 50 notification?

Wouldn’t that need a Parliamentary Vote?

The Act for the Referendum specified nothing. It wasn’t even a binding vote.

Normal course would be that the PM uses their normal powers under Royal Perogative as leader of the UK Government to treat with the EU.

The ‘need’ for a Westminster Parliamentary vote implies that the Sovereign decision lies with the UK Parliament, but whilst the Sovereignty of Parliament is an English Legal concept, it may not be seen as sufficient as all three devolved parliaments are purposely designed and bound by EU law. 

That may lead to a legal challenge on the validity of Westminster vote being sufficent to trigger the Article 50 notification.

In the instance of a challenge to that Westminster vote under Scots Law, it could be enough to trigger a case to the UK Supreme Court, as after all, a prudent Scottish Court could take a view or opinion on the matter but would not wish to create a concept that would bind or affect on other territories, that would be beyond it’s competence as a court for Scotland. 

Treading on what Sovereign Powers Westminster has for the former Kingdom of Scotland is tricky as the 1707 Acts of Union created a new parliament at Westminster, but English constitutional experts say that the Union merely continued Westminster with a greater territory to rule, but in that case, why are so many aspects of Scots Law different to their English equivalents after over 300 years of Union?

The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood sees itself as a continuance of the pre-union parliament, it however does not have an equal power or footing as Westminster ‘reserved’ powers including those of treating with the EU.

So, Holyrood might object or pass a vote against Brexit, but it’s comment could be ignored by Westminster. The executives in Belfast and Cardiff might similarly vote against.

Then, it resides with if the Devolved Governments bother to take a legal challenge through the UK Supreme Court by using interpretation of the acts used to grant devolution to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. 

That essentially takes a journey of Parliament versus devolved Parliament and a question of interpretation of Westminster’s powers. 

I would think it entirely unlikely that a ruling could be given that does not assert the rights for Westminster to use the Royal Perogative or a vote in the House of Commons as a suitable mechanism to quit the EU; Despite whatever the discrepancy between the overall percentage vote for Leave across the UK and the percentages for Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The UK Supereme Court may say that the will of the voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland should be recognised and suggest that can be done by amendments to the relevant Acts of Devolution before any notice to quit is served by the UK government or new Prime Minister.

No crisis, but a constitutional fudge that would be referred back to Westminster to answer.

Perhaps this might buy time for negotiations and to head toward a ‘Greenland’ solution allowing one legal jurisdiction of the UK to leave the EU or suspend membership, whilst the other two Jurisdictions remain in the EU.

To explain, there is the Realm of Denmark that includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands and continental Denmark. The constituent parts of The Realm are in and out of the EU with Greenland and Faroe Islands outside but subject to their own devolved governments. 

Scotland and Northern Ireland could be seen to have their own devolved parliaments, their own legal systems as distinct jurisdictions from England and Wales and even their own bank notes. 

The fudge would need Westminster to agree a partial exit of the EU for the UK as a ‘union nation’ specifically referring to a unique status as a Sovereign State under a shared monarch but where the Westminster Parliament has served as a successor Parliament after the Union Acts of 1707 and 1800. 

The ‘Union State’ persists in London, UK ministries still cover the whole, but devolved powers get extended, close enough to ‘Home Rule’ but with the catches that make the hard decisions on tax and spending fall on the First Ministers and that the devolved parliaments. Supporters of the union call it federalism, but Westminster gives the bare minimum necessary, London’s financial position is protected.

Unsurprisingly, this is the playbook from the Unionist side.

There’s a point to this, the proposal for a new act of union from politicians merely follows through some thinking from legal sources. 

And if you look at some of Professor Tomkins’ work online and search on ‘Act of Union’ and Scottish Sovereignty, we get towards McCormick Vs Lord Advocate 1953 and a view that ‘the unlimited sovereignty of parliament is a distinctly English principle and has no counterpart in Scottish Constitutional law.’ 

Obviously if you change the law through a ‘new’ act of union and actually define a ‘British state’ in terms other than the 1707 and 1800 acts.

You get nearer to the 1920’s and the methodology used to keep Northern Ireland in ‘The Union State’ whilst freeing the Irish Free State. 

The Irish ‘separatists’ in their own right used parallel lines of their own parliament – ‘Dail Eireann’ and that of the Created ‘Parliament of Southern Ireland’ with the settlement proposed by Westminster used to legitimise what they wanted. The parliament they created after the uprising evolved with time.

The Union State / or Imperial Parliament had expanded far beyond James VI’s ‘Great Britain’ and had parts later removed as dominions or free states or independent nations

If a new Act of Union is created, it limits movement, right now, a solution can be taken in many directions, a unilateral referendum with a yes conclusion is enough. it follows clear votes at Westminster and Holyrood levels of representatives.

Sometimes there are procedures and rules, sometimes there is action.
Addendum.

Since writing, a so-called cross party group prepared a Draft New Act of Union.

http://www.constitutionreformgroup.co.uk – to my mind their content was poor they started by defining the UK as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which doesn’t reflect how the 1707 and 1800 acts worked and takes no account of the fudge made for the Irish Republic (Ireland) to secede. 

To accurately start you recognise the first Act of Union between The Kingdoms of Scotland and England, you recognise Wales and Ireland were possessions of England,  you look at the Second Act of Union incorporating Ireland’s representatives and you work from there. 

You recognise the home rule bills for Ireland, The Statute of Westminster, where a formerly Imperial parliament freed the bonds for Canada, The Irish Free State and The Union of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand only required their own legislation recognising the Statute, which they later did in 1942 and 1947.

So to finish,

What is needed to trigger Brexit and can the English Courts or the Supreme Court of the U.K. Adequately rule on the matter?

Let’s see the 1707 Act of Union

https://www.parliament.uk/documents/heritage/articlesofunion.pdf

Article XIX is pretty clear that no English Court has any jurisdiction in Scotland and the power of the Court of Session were to be maintained. 

Article XXIV talks of the Great Seals and that a United Kingdom Great Seal be used in any treaties with Foreign Princes or States.

Therefore the perogative lies with the Crown and not parliament to deal with the EU (as a Foreign State, or collection of). 

The English Courts cannot use their jurisdiction beyond England (England, Wales and NI), the treaty for joining the EU was in the name of Elizabeth as Queen of the UK, obviously signed on her ministers advice. 

The trigger to remove from the EU is therefore under Royal Perogative. It is for her Ministers (Current Prime Minister and Cabinet) to do so on her behalf.

Devolution means Elizabeth has Scottish Ministers that do not agree with Brexit and do not believe it is in the Interests of Scotland to do so, but Foreign Affairs are not devolved powers and are outside Holyrood’s powers.

No doubt similar was said when The Irish Free State moved toward the Irish Republic andformally became independent, although in practical terms it had been from the end of the 1920’s civil war. Precedence can be found for whatever argument that might suit your needs.

The fun begins when Brexit’s Article 50 is served.