Updated: Mar 6, 2021
On 21st October, Local MPs David Simmonds and Boris Johnson both helped to defeat a bid to extend free school meals for over 1 million children over the school holidays.
The motion, defeated by 322 votes to 261, was backed by footballer and food poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford MBE who had rallied his 3.4 million Twitter Followers to lobby MPs and back the campaign.
Rashford had already forced the Government to u-turn in June of this year when they agreed to fund free school meals over the Summer holidays. The motion proposed in parliament on 21st October would have done the same for all the holiday periods up until Easter 2021.
In a Tweet made on 21st October, Rashford emphasised the need for the government to extend free school meals over the holidays is even greater than before:
"We aren’t in the same position we were in in the Summer, it’s much worse. The number of children with little to no access to food has risen significantly”.
In the parliamentary debate, Conservative Prime Minister and MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip Boris Johnson repeatedly dodged pleas from MPs calling on him to extend the scheme. He said the Government would "continue to use the benefit system and all the systems of income support to support young people and children throughout the holidays as well".
David Simmonds, Conservative MP for Ruislip, Northwood, and Pinner accused Labour of “spending taxpayers’ money to curry favour with celebrity status, wealth and power”.
Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell, voted in favour of the motion. Commenting on Twitter afterwards, he said "There are lows in politics but not many as bad as watching Tories trying to justify voting to let kids go hungry this winter".