Deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner has revealed the mysterious memo she was sent in the Commons on September 8 told her the Queen was unwell 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 immediately “read between the lines”.
Labor leader Sir Keir had given his response to the government’s statement on the cost of living crisis when 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 feel that something had happened.”
And the deputy has now revealed what it was.
She said: “The message was that the Queen is unwell and Keir needs to leave the hall as soon as possible to be briefed.
“I read between the lines on that because you don’t get a note saying the Queen is unwell if she has a bit of a cough or a cold.”
“I felt the gravity of it”
Co-host 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 memo … he said he has to leave the chamber. ..I felt the gravity of it.”
She said at that moment, on a personal level, she felt “incredibly gloomy”, but quickly turned to thinking of a way to get the news to Sir Keir without disturbing him too much from what was an “incredible 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 was kind of waiting for my opportunity and then I looked over at Mr Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Commons Speaker) and he nodded to say ‘this is actually quite urgent’ ie don’t wait long. “
“It Changed Everything”
After they left the room, Secretary of State Simon Case explained to them both what had 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.
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 a shock – it changed everything.
“My family are big royalists and my kids are called James and Charles,” she added.