It was only a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity.
As rain spilled from Berlin’s skies on Tuesday morning, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s car pulled up in front of a red carpet where she was supposed to be greeted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But May couldn’t figure out how to exit the car.
Merkel stood to the side, under a covering protecting her from the rain, where she patiently waited for May, who was visiting for last-minute assurances on Brexit.
But Merkel was kept waiting longer than expected, because May just couldn’t seem to get her door to open.
When the car arrived, a woman rushed to open the door for May, umbrella in hand, only to find it locked. She pulled it once, twice, then a third time.
Sometime in between those attempts, the man in the passenger seat up front opened his door and began to fiddle with the locks. Merkel stood to the side, watching.
The woman pulled the door handle again. No luck.
It’s unclear what changed in the car’s internal locking system, but the door finally swung open, and out stepped May.
And then Britain just couldn’t help itself. For many, the few-seconds clip of May struggling to exit the car summed up the chaos around Brexit.
As The Washington Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker reported Monday, commotion broke out in the House of Commons “when Prime Minister Theresa May delayed a crucial vote on the agreement setting out the terms of her country’s withdrawal from the European Union, receiving a tongue lashing for her decision.”
“The conflict climaxed when an opposition lawmaker stepped forth in protest and took hold of an ornamental mace,” he wrote.
And if Monday’s commotion wasn’t enough, May finding herself briefly locked in her car on Tuesday really hit close to home for some Brits.
“Her deal is locked in the backstop, and she is locked in the backseat,” one ITV journalist remarked on Twitter.
Another user called the incident “embarrassing,” saying May “can’t get us out of the #EU and now she can’t get herself out of a car.”
“In a way we are all locked in Theresa May’s car while Angela Merkel looks bemusedly on,” another said.