Deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner has revealed the mysterious note she was passed in the Commons on September 8 told her the Queen was ill and she had to discreetly persuade her boss to leave the chamber immediately.
Speaking on the News Agents podcast, she said when Nadhim Zahawi gave it to her and she read the contents, she instantly “read between the lines”.
Labor leader Sir Keir had given his response to the Government’s statement on the cost of living crisis when Mr Zahawi, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, whispered into the Prime Minister’s ear and handed her a folded piece of paper.
A similar note was sent to Mrs. Rayner.
Podcast host Jon Sopel said, “You could just tell something had happened.”
And the deputy leader has now revealed what it was.
She said: “The remark was that Queen is uncomfortable, and Keir must leave the room as soon as possible to be briefed.
“I’m reading between the lines on that, because you don’t get a note saying the Queen is sick if she has a cough or a cold.”
‘I felt the gravity of it’
Co-presenter Emily Maitlis asked her: “What was going through your head?”
The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne continued: “Before that news it (the cost of living debate) was the main news of the day, so to get a note… that he said he has to leave the room… .. I felt the gravity of it.”
She said at the moment, on a personal level, she was feeling “incredibly gloomy”, but it soon turned to thinking of a way to get the news to Sir Keir without disturbing him too much from what was a ” incredibly important” televised speech to Parliament.
“I was trying to think of how to get this note to him… if someone tries to give you information when you’re in the middle of talking, it’s the most distracting thing, so I waited for the opportunity to do it.
“I waited a little bit for my opportunity and then I looked over to Mr Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Commons Speaker) and he gave me a nod to say ‘this is actually quite urgent’ ie don’t wait long.”
‘It changed everything’
After they left the room, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case explained to them both what happened.
At 12.20pm, Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen’s doctors were concerned about her health and senior members of the royal family traveled to Balmoral Castle in Scotland to be with her.
At 6:30 p.m. that day, the palace announced that she had died.
Mrs Rayner added: “We had all known the Queen was becoming very frail and there had been talks about what would happen………… but it was still such a shock – it changed everything.
“My family are big royalists and my children’s names are James and Charles,” she added.