Britain's Houses of Parliament have been in disrepair for decades.
London CNN  — 

Britain is in the midst of a political crisis, with tensions inside Parliament and throughout the country running high as the clock ticks down to Brexit.

So it isn’t ideal timing for a plumbing fault.

The House of Commons was forced to suspend its sitting on Thursday when water leaked through the roof and into the chamber during a debate.

Lawmakers referenced the problem and looked nervously upwards as they discussed a tax issue, before the deputy speaker announced that Parliament would close for business early.

“Not the first time there has been a leak in Parliament,” MP Ross Thomson tweeted, alongside a picture of the water.

The Palace of Westminster, rebuilt in the mid-19th century, has been in structural decline for decades, and leaks throughout the estate are relatively common.

But Thursday’s leak – which was audible during the debate – led to an inevitable flood of wisecracks from politicians and journalists, who have spent recent months wading through a period of upheaval in the Commons that has seen lawmakers deadlocked over how to resolve Britain’s Brexit crisis.

“I hope I can complete my speech before rain stops play,” said Labour MP Justin Madders as he began speaking. “I think there is probably some kind of symbol about how many people view how broken our Parliament is,” he added.

“Somebody might say there is a leak in Parliament at the moment,” added the deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle, who was presiding over the debate.

“I’m sure many Cabinet meetings have similar difficulties,” Madders quipped back.

Several political reporters, who spend their time chasing a different kind of leak, also took the opportunity to point out the maintenance issues facing the Palace.

And the Commons press office was quick to reassure those inside the estate about the contents of the leak.

“We would like to clarify this was not a sewage leak,” they wrote.

Lawmakers are due to move out of the Palace of Westminster in the next decade to allow essential repairs to take place.

As a national icon and UNESCO World Heritage Site, its renovation represents a hugely complex – and costly – operation.

But a report issued in September 2016 by a special joint committee of MPs and members of the House of Lords warned of an “impending crisis” that could not responsibly be ignored.

The leak may not be the most unusual thing that happened in Parliament this week.

On Monday, a group of topless protesters glued themselves to the public viewing chamber while MPs debated Brexit, before eventually being detached and removed by police.

And on Wednesday there was political drama in the chamber, with the Speaker having to break a tied vote on for the first time in decades.

The Commons was not due to sit on Friday, so the leak brought one of the more surreal weeks in recent parliamentary history to an abrupt end.