Politics

Marcus Rashford says Boris Johnson hasn’t been in touch over free school meals amid claims PM could u-turn


MARCUS Rashford said Boris Johnson hasn’t been in touch over free school meals – after Matt Hancock suggested the pair had had contact.

Health Secretary Mr Hancock said he understood Prime Minister Boris Johnson had responded to a letter from free school meals campaigner Marcus Rashford amid uproar across the country about last week’s vote.

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The Manchester star has been pushing for more help to feed hungry kids

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The Manchester star has been pushing for more help to feed hungry kidsCredit: PA:Press Association
Marcus Rashford claimed he hadn't spoken to the PM since the summer
Marcus Rashford claimed he hadn’t spoken to the PM since the summer

MPs voted down a Labour opposition day motion to force ministers to extend the free school meals policy during the winter school holidays too.

But the Government insisted it was giving cash to councils to fund the meals instead.

Footie star Rashford has led a huge campaign to try and get more help for hungry kids.

And after the motion was voted down he took to Twitter to share inspirational businesses who were providing free meals to kids this half term.

Mr Hancock said today the PM had been in contact with Rashford.

He told BBC Breakfast: “There has been communication between the two, as far as I understand it.

“We have all seen what Marcus Rashford has done, and the way he has conducted himself in this campaign I think is absolutely exemplary.

“He is making an argument based on his personal experience for the benefit of people who really need that support.”

Pressed on the response from Number 10, Mr Hancock added: “I’m not in charge of the Prime Minister’s correspondence – if there hasn’t been, I’m sure that that will be followed up.”

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But Mr Rashford said on Twitter: “Hmm, unless he’s referring to the call we had following the u-turn in June?”

Mr Hancock hinted this morning again that some change was on the cards.

He said: “I accept and I strongly believe that we should all come together to ensure no child should go hungry.

“That’s the central insight between what Marcus Rashford is arguing for.”

He stressed that it was “not my area of policy to speak about” but expressed warm words that more help may be coming.

“Our attitude and our purpose is to ensure that everybody gets the support that we need, no child should go hungry,” he added.

“The question is how best to do it – I think councils do have a very important role in this.”

Boris Johnson is said to be looking at how to get help to kids for the Christmas holidays if they need it - seen here on a hospital visit today to promise healthier meals

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Boris Johnson is said to be looking at how to get help to kids for the Christmas holidays if they need it – seen here on a hospital visit today to promise healthier mealsCredit: PA:Press Association
The PM has stressed in the past that councils have the cash to help kids to eat in the holidays

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The PM has stressed in the past that councils have the cash to help kids to eat in the holidaysCredit: PA:Press Association
He helped out at a local foodbank charity last week

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He helped out at a local foodbank charity last weekCredit: PA:Press Association

Boris and Marcus Rashford spoke on the phone earlier this year when the PM decided to fund the free school meals throughout the summer break.

Now the Government are saying because schools are back open and running, that there isn’t a need for the vouchers scheme as councils are providing help for families who need it.

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But there are suggestions a u-turn could be on the cards

Since last week’s vote there’s been a furious reaction from the public, who have demanded the PM thinks again on providing the help for kids.

And now Tory MPs are coming out to demand a rethink too.

Former minister Tobias Ellwood said today: “Boris Johnson should talk to Marcus Rashford, have that discussion, lets have a plan, get it in for the Christmas period in time to support our children.”

Hailing the “phenomenal” campaign by the England striker, Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis indicated yesterday that reforms may be worked out for the festive period.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said: “What we are looking to do is put in place the structure that means even in the school holidays children can get access to the food they need.”

And he suggested ministers are studying how “people who need that extra support, very targeted and very directly, can get that support” from local councils.

The Times also reported that the PM would look to increase funding for the poorest families during the Christmas holidays.

The hints of a rowback came as Sir Bernard Jenkin, a Vote Leave sidekick of the Prime Minister, blasted No 10’s handling of the dispute, saying: “I think we have to admit that we have misunderstood the mood of the country here.”

And he added: “I think the Government will probably have to think again.”

Labour vowed to put the issue to another vote before Christmas.

In a further blow to No 10, children’s commissioner Anne Longfield accused Mr Johnson of treating the poorest children like Oliver Twist, adding she had been “horrified and really disappointed” by last week’s vote.

Meanwhile Tory MPs have had their offices strewn with protests and even vandalised as the anger continues.

Some MPs have had children’s toys, placards and plates left outside their offices in opposition to the ongoing school meals row.

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