In what is probably too perfect a metaphor for the Brexit chaos in the United Kingdom right now, a leak in the roof of the House of Commons has forced members of Parliament (MPs) to suspend all debate.
Water poured into the House of Commons, near the press gallery, forcing an early end to the day. In this clip from Parliament, you can hear the downpour in the background, just before the deputy speaker suspended debate, shortly before 3 pm local time.
“I hope I can complete my speech before rain stops play,” Labour MP Justin Madders said just before Parliament suspended. “I think there is probably some kind of symbol, about how many people view how broken Parliament is, going on there.”
MPs were debating tax policy at the time — but the abrupt finish in the House of Commons seemed a little too apt, considering the political dysfunction over Brexit. Lawmakers have rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal three times, and, on Monday, again failed to agree on any alternative Brexit options.
On Wednesday, the House of Commons narrowly passed — by one vote — a bill that would force May to ask the EU for another Brexit extension to avoid a no-deal, although ultimately it’s all up to the EU. That legislation is currently being debated in the House of Lords (which, so far, hasn’t sprung any leaks), but for now the UK remains deadlocked and without a definite Brexit plan — with less than two weeks to go before the current deadline of April 12.
The rain delay does affect the Brexit debate, as some reporters pointed out, as the members of Parliament are not expected back until Monday. May had suggested she would give MPs another chance to hold indicative votes (that thing they already did twice, voting on a lot of Brexit options), but there isn’t a whole lot of time to do that before May would need to ask the EU to delay Brexit again. EU leaders are meeting in Brussels at an emergency summit on April 10.
A spokesperson for the prime minister denied the deluge in Parliament had complicated anything, telling Business Insider he was “not aware of any change to our plans” because of the leak.
The rain pouring into the centuries-old Houses of Parliament in Westminster — which really is, quite literally, failing apart — was one of a series of mishaps that many saw as ridiculously on-the-nose metaphors for the Brexit mess: Half-naked protesters interrupted the Brexit debate on Monday, with their thonged backsides facing down toward MPs as they prepared for indicative votes. And on Wednesday, a printer broke down, preventing the publication of an MP’s bill to force May to ask for a Brexit extension. (That’s the bill that just barely passed.)
The House of Commons printer has broken down so they can’t print the Cooper Bill. So now MPs are not sure what they are now debating.
— Chris Wimpress (@ChrisWimpress) April 3, 2019
But it really could have been worse on Thursday. Initial reports suggested the flood in Parliament was actually a sewage leak, though the House of Commons had to “clarify” that it was not, in fact, a total shitstorm.
We would like to clarify this was not a sewage leak.
— Commons Press Office (@HoCPress) April 4, 2019
Maintenance staff will have until Monday to fix the problem, according to the Guardian — which will hopefully eliminate the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, due to leak.