Angela Rayner reveals what was on THAT note that was passed to her in the Commons alerting the Labour front bench to the Queen’s failing health
The note, along with scenes showing PM Liz Truss being urgently briefed by Nadhim Zahawi at the same time, was the first sign that something urgent was going on outside the walls of Parliament.
Ms Truss had just delivered a major statement on energy costs on September 8 as she announced a price freeze for all households on their bills amid the cost of living crisis.
As Labour Leader Sir Keir rose and began his response to Ms Truss’ statement a little after midday, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Mr Zahawi entered the Commons and sat down next to the PM before urgently whispering in her ear.
Around the same moment, Ms Rayner was passed a note which said ‘in plain English’ that: ‘The Queen is unwell and Keir needs to leave the chamber as soon as possible to be briefed.’
She then faced choosing the right moment to pass him the note to avoid distracting the Labour leader, she told The News Agents, Emily Maitlis’ and Jon Sopel’s new Global podcast.
The Queen passed away at Balmoral on September 8, with her death announced shortly after 6.30pm.
Angela Rayner (right) received the note as Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer reacted to the PM’s long-anticipated announcement on energy bills
Angela Rayner was passed the note which she then had to get to Keir Starmer as quickly as possible
Mr Zahawi, who was just this week appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the portfolio of land, property and assets held by the Queen, was tasked with informing the premier about the Queen’s deteriorating health and was seen briefing her on the front bench for several minutes before leaving
Liz Truss appeared to crane her neck to observe the Labour Leader being told to leave the Chamber after being briefed herself by Nadhim Zahawi (right)
Ms Rayner told the podcast that it was at that moment in the Commons she realised the Queen’s death was imminent: ‘I read between the lines on that, because you don’t get a note saying the Queen is unwell if she’s got a bit of a cough or a cold.’
She added that the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle managed to indicate to her that it was an urgent matter, and she was anxious to pass the message on as soon as possible.
Recognising that the note signaled huge change was about to take place, but unsure when or how the news would emerge, she spoke of her duty to ‘protect’ Mr Starmer.
She said: ‘I was trying to get the note to him without being too dramatic, but also not knowing exactly what was going on. I needed to get him out of the chamber.’
‘I kept the note and I was trying to think, how am I going to get it to Keir without totally ruining what he’s trying to say, because if someone is trying to give you information when you’re in the middle of speaking it’s the most distracting thing, so I was waiting for the opportunity to do it.
‘[Sir Lindsay is] giving me the nod of “this is actually quite urgent”.
‘So I kind of knew that it was quite an important moment.’
She added: ‘If Keir was at full throttle when the news broke, then I haven’t protected him from the circumstances.’
Shortly after, the PM, Labour Leader and Deputy Leader all left the chamber and were briefed by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, The Telegraph reports.
Not long after this briefing, Buckingham Palace released a statement to say doctors had become concerned about Queen Elizabeth’s health and she was under medical supervision.
The Speaker of the Commons issued a statement to the House, sending the royal family ‘thoughts and prayers’.
Queen Elizabeth II died this afternoon at the age of 96. The monarch is pictured waiting in the Drawing Room before receiving Liz Truss for an audience at Balmoral, Scotland on Tuesday
Sir Lindsay Hoyle told MPs: ‘I know I speak on behalf of the entire House when I say that we send our best wishes to Her Majesty the Queen and that she and the royal family are in our thoughts and prayers at this moment.’
Shortly afterwards it was announced that senior members of the royal family including Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew were racing up to Scotland to see Her Majesty.
Prince Charles, Camilla and Princess Anne were already at the Queen’s side, and were the only members of her family to see her before her death.
The news came as Liz Truss was less than two days into her new role as the UK’s Prime Minister, which she began when she met with the Queen on Tuesday September 6.
Shortly before that meeting, a royal photographer took what would be the last official photo of the Queen before her death at the age of 96.