Despite the snow, a lot of Brexit related events and discussions happened. A lot of text was published. Statements and speeches were made. Despite more detail on some proposals and slightly more positive noises from Brussels, it does not look like it is anywhere near all sorted yet.
With the snow closing in, the EU were first off by publishing the Draft Withdrawal Agreement on 28 February 2018, being a first attempt to put the Phase 1 agreement from last December into what amounts to 119 pages of legal text. Not surprisingly much of it is very dense legal text. Perhaps the most notable areas of concern for the UK were a continuing involvement of the Court of Justice of the EU's (CJEU) supervisory jurisdiction, adhering to the single market and the customs union during the transition period, as well as accepting adherence to other EU areas of competence and regulation. The transition period itself was to lasts until 31 December 2020, not the two years the UK were seeking.
Of most concern is the solution to the Ireland Northern Irish border issue which is tucked away in a Protocol at the end. It sets out the default position of Northern Ireland as being in a "common regulatory area without internal borders in which the free movement of goods is ensured". This has gone down very badly with certain Brexiteer supporters and the DUP in Northern Ireland. The EU say this is a default position in the absence of any proposals from the UK. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council invited the UK to come up with some better ideas and definite proposals. Presumably lunch in Downing Street between the PM and Mr Tusk on Thursday was interesting. However this is just the starting point of this particular negotiation which the uninitiated may have wrongly thought was finalised last December.
This was followed by the Prime Minister Theresa May's speech on Friday being the culmination of the Ministerial speeches and was sold as being a breakthrough in the negotiations going forward and setting out the UK's position clearly. There was certainly a different tone around this speech from previous speeches . It was accepted that "having cake and eating it" was off the table, "this was going to be complex" and that "life is going to be different". These comments show a degree of realism absent from previous speeches. The PM suggested close regulatory alignment to EU agencies, programmes and areas of regulation and that the UK would have to pay for this to happen. Having said that, she also reserved the sovereign right of the UK Parliament to make those closely aligned regulations and not to do so if they thought fit now or in the future.
Legally that is not likely to be an acceptable level of certainty for the EU who are determined to preserve the single market and it will still look like "cherry-picking" to them. Anything seen as less flexible for the UK on regulatory alignment will not be acceptable to the Brexiteers.
Meanwhile the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill continues to make its way slowly and sedately through the House of Lords. Final government amendments are due by mid March for the Committee stage. It is not yet clear whether changes will be made to appease the devolved administrations in relation to the UK government potentially being able to exercise powers the devolved administrations consider are devolved.
The Scottish Courts have also been in play. They have been considering an appeal on whether a which was rejected by a lower court. They are being asked to allow a reference to the CJEU on whether the Article 50 notice can be reversed. A judgement is pending.
Finally, in Scotland, the legislative game board had been added to by the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill which the Scottish Government introduced into the Scottish Parliament on 27 February 2018.. If it is to proceed it will do so as an emergency Bill. However discussion of that Bill is for another time. Their Welsh counterparts introduced a similar Bill into the Welsh Assembly.
While it may have been a slow week for those of us trying to get around in the snow it is thankfully clearing now and we are beginning to see the way ahead. That may be the case in Brexit land, but there are still a lot of snow flurries and drifts obscuring the final destination.