Angela Rayner told everyone what was in a strange note that was given to her in the House of Commons on the day the Queen died.
On September 8, Nadhim Zahawi, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, whispered in the prime minister’s ear and handed her a folded note as Keir Starmer gave his response to the government’s energy statement and the cost of living crisis. Rayner, who works for Starmer, also got a note like this.
Rayner has talked about the problem she faced when she was trying to figure out how to stop the Labour leader while the TV cameras were on.
She said on Wednesday’s News Agents podcast, hosted by Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel, that the note was written in “plain English” and said, “The Queen is sick, and Keir needs to leave the chamber as soon as possible to be briefed.”
Simon Case, who is in charge of the cabinet, told Rayner and Starmer what was going on. At 12:20 p.m., Buckingham Palace said that the Queen was sick and that doctors were worried about her health.
Senior members of the royal family went to Scotland to be with her at Balmoral Castle. At 6:30 pm that day, the Palace told everyone that the monarch, who was 96, had died.
Rayner told the podcast, “I read between the lines on that because you don’t get a note saying the Queen is sick if she just has a cough or cold.”
The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne said, “I was trying to get the note to [Starmer] without being too dramatic. I didn’t know what was going on, but I needed to get him out of the chamber.
“I kept the note and was trying to figure out how to give it to Keir without interrupting what he was saying. It’s very distracting when someone tries to tell you something when you’re in the middle of talking, so I was waiting for the right time to do it.”
Rayner said that when the note was passed, she looked over and caught the attention of the Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who told her she needed to talk to Sir Keir right away.
“He’s giving me the sign that ‘this is pretty important,'” she said. “So I sort of knew that it was a pretty big deal.”
The deputy Labour leader said she was also worried about how and when the news of the Queen’s death might get out, and she didn’t want that to happen before Starmer had been told.
“If Keir was going full speed when the news came out, I haven’t done enough to protect him from the situation.”
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