The British and German heads of government were laughing at a picture of them wearing almost identical outfits in their respective parliaments earlier in the day.
As the other EU leaders were taking their places at the table in
Mrs Merkel then showed the tablet to two colleagues, who gave more muted reactions, as did European Council President Donald Tusk.
Aides revealed it was a TV still of the duo speaking in the Commons and the Bundestag at the same time yesterday morning before flying to Brussels.
Mrs May shared a joke with German chancellor Angela Merkel last night, ahead of the PM’s pitch to EU leaders in which she is asking for a delay to Brexit until June 30 at the latest
Aides revealed today the duo were laughing at a TV still of them speaking in the Commons and the Bundestag at the same time yesterday morning before flying to Brussels
Body language expert Judi James suggested May’s ‘pantomime over-reaction’ showed her desire to gain approval from the German leader – saying she was ‘laughing like you laugh at your boss’s dog photos’.
James told MailOnline: ‘May’s almost pantomime response suggests she is keen to gain approval and even friendship from the German leader as her over-congruent reaction to what she is being shown looks otherwise out of character.
‘It’s the kind of response you see when the boss brings photos of their pet Labra-doodle or their kids to work and employees trying to curry favour respond with expressions and coos of delight and awe.’
James suggested the episode showed the two leaders sharing a ‘moment of exaggerated bonding’.
‘As she looks at the screen May raises her brows and opens her mouth in a gesture of surprised delight,’ she said.
‘Her response goes down well as Merkel tilts her head and looks up to evaluate and enjoy May’s reaction.
‘May takes her rituals one step further by pointing at the screen before straightening up with her mouth open.
‘The rapport builds here as Merkel mirrors May’s expression, leading May to up things a notch by stabbing her finger at the screen and leaning back and roaring with laughter, which again receives the seal of approval from Merkel’s mirrored laughter.’
The two national leaders, both dressed in cobalt blue, appeared captivated by something on Mrs Merkel’s iPad at the start of the meeting in Brussels
They then shared the joke with European Council president Donald Tusk, who saw the funny side
James said May’s reaction contrasted with the men who Merkel showed the tablet to.
‘A couple of them look distinctly under-whelmed while Tusk just looks faintly awkward,’ she added.
The comic moment was a rare moment of levity at a late night summit where Mrs May was forced to wait for hours for EU leaders to decide Britain’s fate.
She is now on her way back to Britain to explain why she has agreed to delay Brexit until Halloween – as her MPs openly plotted to force her from office and install a new leader within weeks, it was revealed today.
The Prime Minister is set to face a bruising in the Commons at lunchtime where she will give a statement after EU leaders humiliated her at a crunch Brussels summit that ended at 2am today.
European Council president Donald Tusk gave Mrs May a glimmer of hope that the UK could leave before October, saying the ‘course of action is entirely in the UK’s hands’ – but urged them: ‘Don’t waste this time’.
Mrs May had begged them to postpone Britain’s departure until June 30 while she talks to Jeremy Corbyn – but this was rejected, leaving the PM in a precarious position having repeatedly said she could not ‘countenance’ Britain staying in the EU after that date.
Tory MPs are plotting to oust her will now try to change party rules that mean she cannot be fired within 12 months of winning a no confidence vote, which was last held in December. But they may try to gather the 10,000 signatures required from Tory members to change party rules and oust her.
Speaking in Brussels at 2am Mrs May insisted the Halloween extension leaves the door open to the UK leaving as early as next month if she is able to get her deal through Parliament at the fourth time of asking.
She said: ‘What we have agreed means that we can actually leave the European Union before June 30.
‘I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension. The choices we now face are stark, and the timetable is clear. So we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach consensus on a deal which is in the national interest.’
Asked if she owed the country an apology for not securing Brexit by now, Mrs May replied: ‘Over the last three months I have voted three times to leave the European Union.
‘If sufficient members of Parliament had voted with me in January we would already be out of the European Union’.
But she added that she would she would seek more talks with Jeremy Corbyn today – but would not be drawn on when she planned to quit as former leader Iain Duncan Smith said she must stick to her promise to resign next month while veteran Brexiteer MP Sir Bill Cash said Mrs May must go immediately.