It seems like a metaphor from the universe: As Theresa May arrived in Berlin for talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel aimed at saving Brexit, she found herself locked in her car for what Politico describes as a "few agonizing seconds"—though it was more than a few. More like nearly 15 as Merkel waited to greet May on a red carpet. The scene spurred tweets like this one: "Brexit in a nutshell. Theresa May can't get out of her own locked car as Europe looks on bewildered." The AP reports May is on a tour of European capitals as she looks to secure EU guarantees related to the "backstop." It's a part of the Brexit agreement that's meant to prevent the re-creation of a physical border between Northern Ireland (UK) and Ireland (EU) post-Brexit, and it's emerged as one of the chief sticking points.
As the AP explains, the backstop dictates that if the two can't agree on ways to prevent the formation of a hard border, the UK will stay part of the EU customs union. The UK also can't exit the arrangement without the OK of the EU, spurring fears among British lawmakers that the UK could be "trapped permanently in the backstop," as a British Brexit minister puts it. The purpose of May's meetings is to get new language around it, and Politico reports European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was absolute: further negotiation will not occur. But "there is room enough to give further clarification, and further interpretations without opening the Withdrawal Agreement. That will not happen." As for the Parliamentary vote to ratify the Brexit deal that was delayed Monday, a rep for May says it'll now occur by Jan. 21. (Read more Brexit stories.)