British lawmakers had to be sent home in mid-debate this month when water from a burst pipe began gushing into the House of Commons chamber. That image perfectly illustrates Parliament’s problem as it tries to solve the puzzle of Brexit.

On the outside, the U.K. institution is resplendent, a world-famous symbol of democracy sitting majestically on the River Thames. Inside, it’s decrepit and increasingly unfit for use.

The hidden flaws in Britain’s political system have been laid bare — and televised worldwide — since voters chose, almost three years ago, to leave the European Union.

An anti-Brexit campaigner holds a sign in front of an EU flag during a protest outside EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
An anti-Brexit campaigner holds a sign in front of an EU flag during a protest outside EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Decision-making has ground to a standstill, even as business leaders and residents alike cry out for certainty. Many Britons — including politicians — feel a mix of frustration, fascination and shame at the ongoing chaos.

In this handout photo provided by the UK Parliament, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her statement in the House of Commons in London, Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament via AP_
In this handout photo provided by the UK Parliament, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her statement in the House of Commons in London, Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament via AP_
Protestor flags fly opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Thursday, April 11, 2019. European Union leaders on Thursday offered Britain an extension to Brexit that would allow the country to delay its EU departure date until Oct. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Protestor flags fly opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Thursday, April 11, 2019. European Union leaders on Thursday offered Britain an extension to Brexit that would allow the country to delay its EU departure date until Oct. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Anti-Brexit demonstrator Steve Bray stands in front of a banner held by pro-Brexit demonstrators near Parliament in London, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Anti-Brexit demonstrator Steve Bray stands in front of a banner held by pro-Brexit demonstrators near Parliament in London, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A pro-Brexit demonstrator shouts near Parliament in London, Wednesday, April 10, 2019.  Just days away from a no-deal Brexit, European Union leaders meet Wednesday to discuss granting the United Kingdom a new delay to its departure from the bloc. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A pro-Brexit demonstrator shouts near Parliament in London, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Just days away from a no-deal Brexit, European Union leaders meet Wednesday to discuss granting the United Kingdom a new delay to its departure from the bloc. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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