Tory MP who defied Boris Johnson on free school meals quits Government post

A Conservative MP who backed Marcus Rashford’s free school meals plan has resigned from the Government.

Caroline Ansell, the MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, was among five Tory rebels who defied Boris Johnson to back a Labour motion to feed hungry children during the holidays.

The motion was defeated by 322 votes to 261 on Wednesday, as Tory MPs blocked the plan.

Quitting her post as a parliamentary aide for the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs, Ms Ansell said her “conscience” would not allow her to vote with the Government on the issue.

In a statement this morning, Ms Ansell said: “In these unprecedented times, I am very concerned to be doing all we can to help lower-income families and their children who are really struggling due to the impact of the virus.”

Footballer Marcus Rashford has been campaigning on free school meals

“Therefore, last night, I voted for Labour’s motion on extending free school meal vouchers until after Easter 2021 for those families in receipt of Universal Credit or an equivalent benefit.

“I do not consider this extension could be in any way a long-term solution to this need, which is complex. There are better ways to help children, including linking meals to activities so they can also benefit from extra-curricular learning and experience.

“However, as we are still very much living in the shadow of the pandemic, vouchers are a lever – not perfect, not sustainable – but one which I thought could be used to reach families in Eastbourne and across the country in the immediate time ahead. I could not in all conscience ignore that belief.”

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“Due to my decision not to support the government in this debate, I have resigned as a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.”

This breaking story is being updated.


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