This Is Just How Badly The Government's School Meals Vote Went Down

Léonie Chao-Fong
·2 min read
The government's refusal to extend free school meals has led to an outpouring of anger. 
The government's refusal to extend free school meals has led to an outpouring of anger.

On Wednesday, Tory MPs voted down a motion to implement footballer Marcus Rashford’s plan to extend free school meals for pupils right through until the Easter holidays next year.

The motion, put forward by Labour leader Keir Starmer, was defeated by 322 votes to 261. The majority of 61 was less than the government’s 80-strong majority. Some 38 Tories did not register a vote.

By refusing to extend the scheme, the government opted to cut short a lifeline for the most vulnerable families. As a result, 1.4 million children risk going to bed hungry this Christmas.

The Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland governments have already put in place funding for the holiday extension.

But on Friday Downing Street confirmed it would not U-turn on the issue, insisting the government’s position was “clear”.

The government earlier this week said it had boosted Universal Credit during the pandemic by £20 and had a “generous” wage support scheme for those struggling.

Here’s a rundown of the response to the vote:

Marcus Rashford

The England footballer – who has spent months campaigning to stop child hunger through school holidays – reacted to the vote by vowing not to give up his campaign.

He tweeted: “These children are the future of this country. They are not just another statistic. And for as long as they don’t have a voice, they will have mine.”

Rashford and his mother visited food charity FareShare in Greater Manchester on Thursday, a day after the Tories voted down the motion, to meet staff and volunteers to see how the charity will be responding to soaring demand this Christmas.

He has himself made clear that he wants a long term solution to child hunger, on top of the holiday extension and has challenged Johnson to honour his election pledge to “level up” the UK by introducing a comprehensive package to end child poverty and hunger.

He...

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