Describing the moment she first realised the monarch’s death was imminent, she said: “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.”
Ms Rayner said “the gravity” of the situation was underlined by the fact that they were prepared to interrupt such a big moment in Parliament.
“I was trying to get the note to him [Sir Keir] without being too dramatic, but also not knowing exactly what was going on, but I needed to get him out of the chamber,” she added.
“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.”
When Ms Rayner looked over and caught the eye of Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, he indicated that she needed to get on with it. “He’s giving me the nod of ‘this is actually quite urgent’,” she said. “So I kind of knew that it was quite an important moment.”
Ms Rayner said she was also concerned about how and when the news of the Queen’s death might emerge and did not want that to happen before Sir Keir had been briefed.
“If Keir was at full throttle when the news broke, then I haven’t protected him from the circumstances,” she added. She said she recognised that events were “going to change everything”.
After leaving the chamber, Ms Rayner and Sir Keir were briefed by Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, and learned of the monarch’s death shortly before it was announced that evening at 6.30pm.