Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain found herself stuck on Tuesday afternoon.
This time, it wasn’t the intractable negotiations over Brexit that left her trapped. Instead, it was a stubborn car door that refused to unlock, leaving her stranded in the back seat as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany looked on.
Video of the episode showed repeated efforts by those inside and outside the car to open the door, to no avail. Finally, moments later, Mrs. May managed to emerge to shake hands with the German leader.
The awkward entrapment — though just seconds long — offered what seemed to some an appropriate metaphor for Mrs. May’s struggles as she makes a desperate bid to secure new assurances from Europe on Britain’s plan to leave the European Union after she postponed a parliamentary vote on the issue at the last minute.
On social media, Mrs. May’s struggle to exit the vehicle was viewed as a sign of her difficult position as she tries to win approval for a Brexit plan that seemed to anger all sides of the debate.
Samantha Power, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, called the scene “Brexit personified.”
After leaving the car, Mrs. May met with Ms. Merkel at the chancellor’s office in Berlin as part of a European tour in an effort to salvage the Brexit deal. The British Parliament was scheduled to vote on the agreement on Tuesday, but Mrs. May on Monday delayed the vote after it became clear that the plan would not be approved.
Mrs. May is hoping her whirlwind tour will help secure new assurances that make her deal with the European Union more palatable to British lawmakers.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, tweeted that he had had a “long and frank discussion” with Mrs. May, and that it was clear that Europe wanted to reach an agreement with Britain.
“The question,” he wrote, “is how.”
Megan Specia is a story editor on the International Desk, specializing in digital storytelling and breaking news. @meganspecia