LONDON — Since Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016, the mind-numbing debate has been peppered with blunders that have looked, at times, like satire.
This week was no different, with a slip-up that stole the show as seven lawmakers resigned from the opposition Labour Party on Monday. During a news conference broadcast live on the BBC, an unidentified person was heard providing vulgar off-camera commentary.
The BBC apologized soon after, though the broadcaster said it was confident the comments did not come from one of its employees, a spokeswoman said in an email on Tuesday.
The mistake is one in a long line of incidents that have inspired a dose of mockery at the expense of Britain’s leaders as they have fumbled through the withdrawal process known as Brexit. We gathered some highlights below.
It started with a hum.
David Cameron, the prime minister who led Britain through the Brexit referendum, resigned following the surprising result in July 2016. The country may have been in shock, but in a moment caught on microphone Mr. Cameron appeared positively relieved.
After making a short statement outside 10 Downing Street, he turned his back to the cameras and marched back inside. But the microphone he was wearing was still on and it recorded him making a jovial hum.
The four-note tune sent people on a chase for its origins and meaning. Classical music fans guessed it may have been Wagner or Shostakovich. But Mr. Cameron’s former communications director, Craig Oliver, told the BBC that the prime minister was just nervous the door behind him was locked and that he would be stranded in front of the cameras.
Then it was Theresa May’s turn.
Over three years in office, Prime Minister Theresa May was frequently belittled for her awkward public appearances, whether during her disastrous 2017 election campaign or trying to dance along with students during a trip to Africa.
So her predicaments elicit snickers even when she is not at fault, as when she became trapped in her car on a visit to Berlin to seek concessions from Germany’s leader, Angela Merkel.
As her black sedan drove up to a red carpet, Mrs. Merkel standing outside, the door refused to open and Mrs. May was trapped inside for several long seconds, in what many saw as a Brexit metaphor.
“Too perfect. Brexit personified,” Samantha Power, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, wrote on Twitter.
No, she wasn’t flying to Brussels in a Spitfire.
In January, after Parliament rejected Mrs. May’s Brexit deal by a history-making margin, she announced her intention to return to Brussels for a new round of negotiations that most people knew ahead of time were doomed.
So there was something weirdly funny when the anchor read out the news, to the accompaniment of grainy footage of World War II fighter plane that appeared to be a Spitfire.
The program’s editor, Paul Royall, said there was no malicious or satirical intent, calling it “simple human error.”
Then there was the falling ‘f.’
During the Conservative Party’s annual conference in 2017, Theresa May delivered a speech intended to end speculation about her fragile leadership.
It was painful to watch.
Her delivery was hampered by a persistent cough, and then a prankster handed her a notice that she was fired.
Finally, the letter “f” fell off a party slogan on a panel behind her reading, “Building a Country That Works for Everyone.”
And, finally, there was the jam.
This month, amid news that Britons were stockpiling basic foods and warnings from retailers about the consequences of a disorderly Brexit, Mrs. May offered proof of her personal resilience.
She told ministers in a cabinet meeting that she never threw away jam that had gotten a bit of mold on top, instead scraping off the offending material and eating the good bit underneath, The Daily Mail reported.
For many, that was the perfect Brexit metaphor: scraping the mold off and getting back to the whole, hopeless mess.