Tory MPs today threatened to join a new Labor offer to force the government to turn around free school meals, warning that Boris Johnson had "misunderstood the public mood".
The Prime Minister faces a major revolt unless he reconsiders refusing to extend free school meals over the holidays – a petition from Premier League footballer Marcus Rashford is nearing 800,000 signatures.
Pressure on Mr Johnson increased this morning when union leader Keir Starmer announced that he would soon be forcing another Commons vote on the matter.
And senior Conservatives made it clear they could stand behind the motion this time, with some saying they "regretted" helping the government in a decision last week.
Meanwhile, England Children's Representative Anne Longfield has harshly condemned spitting, saying it was like "something out of Oliver Twist".
And more than 2,000 pediatricians have signed an open letter to Mr Johnson asking for a rethink.
The Prime Minister faces a major Tory revolt unless he reconsiders refusing to extend free school meals over the holidays
The high-ranking Tory MPs Bernard Jenkin (left) and Tobias Ellwood (right) criticize the government's policies, among other things
It comes as a petition from Premier League footballer Marcus Rashford (pictured with his mother Melanie who helps out at a food bank in Greater Manchester) that garnered more than 700,000 signatures
The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health's open letter to Boris Johnson in full
As pediatricians, we are shocked by the UK Government's refusal to extend the provision of free school meals in England to low-income children during the school holidays.
Child hunger is an issue that should go beyond politics.
Few would disagree that one of our most basic human responsibilities is making sure children have enough to eat.
Every day we see the effects of hunger and malnutrition in our work as pediatricians.
It is not uncommon for us to look after children who do not have enough to eat or who do not have access to a large meal outside of the school facilities.
Good nutrition is at the heart of health, wellbeing and development for children and adolescents.
Without it, the children's health outcomes deteriorate, and with it their chances in life
More than 4 million children in the UK live in poverty and around a third of them depend on free school meals.
The pandemic has anchored and exacerbated this reality; Families who were previously managed are now struggling to make ends meet due to the effects of COVID-19.
It is not good enough to send them off into the holiday season hoping for the best while knowing that many will simply go hungry.
Grocery vouchers don't solve this problem, but they do offer a short-term solution.
We call on the UK Government to keep promises by the Welsh and Scottish Governments and the Northern Irish Executive to continue offering free meals to low-income children for the coming weeks and then extending them to at least Easter school holidays, as they do in Wales and Scotland have done.
We pay tribute to Marcus Rashford and his strong campaign. His advocacy for children and young people was a source of inspiration in difficult times.
We are proud to be at his side on this issue.
As fear of Tory mounts, liaison committee chairman Sir Bernard Jenkin warned today that the government has "misunderstood" the sentiment in the country regarding free school meals.
He told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "I think we have to admit that we misunderstood the mood of the country here.
& # 39; The public wants the government to take national leadership on this. I think the government will probably have to reconsider it, especially if there will be more votes in the lower house.
"If the chairman of the Education Select Committee (Robert Halfon) doesn't support the government on this matter – and he's a Conservative – I think the Conservative Party government needs to listen."
When asked how he would vote in other Commons departments, Sir Bernard said, "I'll see what the government says and how they react to the situation."
Defense Committee Chairman Tobias Ellwood was asked on Times Radio if he regretted voting with the government last week.
"I suppose so, if I'm honest," he said.
“I regret the way the debate has come about because one thing that is happening here is that we will lose national resolve if you wish.
I'm afraid the politicians and politics of this whole Covid-19 are not going in the right direction.
"The more parties work together and support collective governance, the easier it is to deal with a permanent emergency."
Meanwhile, Ms. Longfield said she was "appalled and genuinely disappointed" in recent debates over the extension of free school meal vouchers for vulnerable children.
"We are a wealthy country, it's 2020," she told Sky News.
“Having a debate about whether we should ensure that hungry and vulnerable children have enough to eat is strikingly similar to something we would expect in the chapters of Oliver Twist – a novel published in the 19th century.
"Let's end the divisive and distracting conversation and focus."
But Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis defended the government's stance.
He said ministers increased the universal credit and allocated £ 63 million to local authorities to help people in their communities during a time of need.
“I know this is a very emotional topic. It's a sensitive subject. It is something that affects families in my constituency as well as across the country. I think the position we have taken is the right one, ”he told Sky News.
"We want to make sure that we deal with child poverty at the core and create the structure that enables children to have access to the food they need during the school holidays."
In the letter, organized by the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), doctors say they are "shocked" at the government's refusal to extend the program to low-income children in England over the upcoming school holidays.
The college has urged the government to honor pledges made by authorities in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, who have agreed to extend the programs to the Christmas, February and Easter holidays.
Commenting on the letter, Professor Russell Viner, President of the RCPCH, said, “I have rarely seen such anger among our members.
“We take care of children who do not have enough to eat. We see way too many of them.
“It is heartbreaking that it has become a normal part of our work and that starvation is all too common for millions of families in the UK.
& # 39; There is an opportunity to correct this. There is no point in talking about improving the country, a goal we support while refusing to offer temporary help to children and families. & # 39;
The college says there are four million children in the UK living in poverty and the pandemic "solidifies that reality."
Bosses say children "urgently need government support" and that while food vouchers do not solve the problem of child poverty, they provide a short-term resource for children who do not have enough to eat.
Dr. Max Davie, RCPCH Health Improvement Officer, said, “We are a rich country. It's not about money, it's about making sure people have something to eat, and it's about doing what's right for kids who need a hand up.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis defended the government's stance despite mounting criticism from all quarters
England Children's Representative Anne Longfield (left) said the spit was like "something out of Oliver Twist". Russell Viner, pictured at right, President of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), who beat the government up for refusing to extend free school meals over the holidays
"We shouldn't have to fight for meal vouchers when we're in the middle of a pandemic."
It's a petition from Manchester United star Marcus Rashford calling for an end to child poverty and nearing 800,000 signatures this morning.
The striker was also mentioned in the open letter from RCPCH, which praised his campaign and said they were "proud to be with him on the matter".
But yesterday Downing Street insisted the soccer player's campaign for free school meals would not wane – when the Tory Party spoke on the issue, it broke out openly.
Two Tory MPs have been criticized for making controversial comments about the Manchester United player's request for meals to be funded during the school holidays until Easter 2021. One suggested that the money go to "Crack Dens and Bordelle".
The other implicit hotel companies that offered free groceries didn't need government help.
It came when No. 10 was quick to point out that an aide to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who promised a "detailed explanation" on the matter, spoke in a personal capacity and did not signal a U-turn.
A Deltapoll poll for today's Mail on Sunday found that 71 percent of voters support Rashford's campaign, 18 percent against.
Named an MBE for his successful campaign on free meals to be served during national lockdown, the 22-year-old launched his new campaign after Parliament rejected proposals to provide the free meals to vulnerable children.
The forward said he was "really overwhelmed" by the fact that his online petition garnered more than 700,000 signatures and praised local communities for providing half-time stop-gap measures.
Downing Street yesterday insisted that Manchester United player Marcus Rashford's calls for school meals, which were to be funded over the school holidays through Easter 2021, would not decrease
Mr Sunak's parliamentary adviser, Tory MP James Cartlidge, defended the government's position on Twitter, saying the criticism was "completely disproportionate … given the same sensible position Labor held every year in government … the Schools don't. " responsible for the nutrition of the students outside the semester ”.
However, he added, "But accept more than that and will make a detailed statement in due course."
No. 10 later made it clear that the MP “speaks in a personal capacity”.
Mansfield MP Ben Bradley sparked a storm by replying to a tweet in which another user described the free school lunch program as “£ 20 cash straight to a crack den and brothel” and said, “Got that FSM vouchers done effectively in summer … & # 39;
After being accused of stigmatizing working class families, he said his comments were "taken out of context" and claimed he meant giving children who live in difficult situations an "unlimited coupon for anything "not" helpful ". .
In a post on Facebook that has since been deleted, North Devon MP Selaine Saxby said: “I am delighted that our local businesses have come back so much after the lockdown that they can give away groceries for free and I really hope they don't look for it every further state support ”.
Mansfield Conservative MP Ben Bradley sparked a storm by replying to a tweet about the free school lunch campaign
Meanwhile, North Devon MP Selaine Saxby has also been criticized for making controversial comments about the football player's calls
Ms. Saxby also alleged that she was "taken out of context".
Her controversial comments came just days after the MP was expelled from a Devon pub over anger when she voted against an amendment to the Agriculture Act that would have helped keep farmers from bankruptcy with cheap, inferior ones Protecting food imports under the Post. Brexit trade deal.
In response to offerings of free groceries from tearooms, churches, farms and food stalls, Rashford said, “Even at their lowest point, having felt the devastating effects of the pandemic, local businesses today have armed their communities and trapped children at risk fell.
"I couldn't be more proud to call myself British tonight."
McDonald & # 39; s has also offered family support and announced a partnership with food waste charity Fare Share UK to provide one million meals to families in need.
Tory MP Robert Halfon, who voted to expand free school meals, said it should be a breeze for the prime minister to meet Rashford to come up with a free meal strategy.
Downing Street said, “We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society and we have put in place a strong support package to ensure children and their families do not go hungry during this pandemic.
"The Prime Minister has announced that free school meals will continue during school hours and that he will continue to support families through the crisis so that they have cash to feed the children as needed."
More than 700,000 people are signing a petition to end subsidized meals for MPs after voting against extending free school meals
From Raven Saunt
More than 740,000 people have already signed a petition to end subsidized meals for MPs after they voted against extending free school meals.
Earlier this week An application to offer vulnerable families food aid during the school holidays until Easter 2021 was rejected in the House of Commons by 322 against 261 votes.
However, the defeat sparked violent backlash with 22-year-old Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, who stood up for the campaign and called on people to unite to protect the most vulnerable children.
The latest petition, which started at 38 degrees, said: "MEPs have voted against extending free school meals during the holidays for the poorest children in the UK amid a pandemic.
"Under no circumstances should you benefit from free or subsidized meals from public funds."
More than 740,000 people have already signed a petition to end subsidized meals for MPs after they voted against extending free school meals (parliament canteen pictured).
The petition nearly reached its target of 800,000 signatures (numbers earlier today)
MEPs are currently allowed to eat and drink alcohol in parliamentary restaurants and bars that are not directly subsidized, but operated at a loss. Pictured: Members' menu in the dining room in September 2019
MEPs are currently allowed to eat and drink alcohol in parliamentary restaurants and bars that are not directly subsidized, but operated at a loss.
This means that public money is effectively being spent on subsidizing the entire catering operation.
The petition has so far received more than 740,000 signatures from its 800,000 target.
Portia Lawrie, who started the petition, said, “I only started this petition because I was so angry that some MPs in Parliament and Marcus Rashford's campaign turned down the option to extend free school meals into the school holidays.
"I wanted to point out the clear hypocrisy between eating and drinking that the public subsidizes for MPs, while I refuse to support those most in need."
“I couldn't quite believe what was going on when hundreds of thousands of people put their support behind it in less than 24 hours.
“It is just unfair that the government is refusing to use OUR money on one of the most basic tasks of any compassionate society – feeding hungry children. And the support that this petition receives clearly shows the harm done to those who voted against it. & # 39;
The link to the petition has since been shared by a number of famous faces, including actors Angela Griffin and Tamzin Outhwaite.
The link to the petition has since been shared by a number of famous faces, including actors Angela Griffin and Tamzin Outhwaite
It comes after Rashford tweeted tonight to ask people to rise above disappointment and describe the abuse of MPs and their families in recent days as "unacceptable" and unnecessary.
He wrote: “I would like to briefly comment on the fact that some MPs and their families have experienced unacceptable abuse in the past few days, particularly on Twitter.
“Believe me, as a Premier League player I know all too well what this feels like and it's unnecessary. We're all bigger than that. & # 39;
He said that he cannot and will not tolerate personal attacks on women in particular.
He called for "cooperation" and "togetherness" and added: "Disappointment is a natural reaction, but we have to rise above it."
Earlier this week, the athlete told BBC Newsnight that he "couldn't be more proud to call me British" after his campaign to offer free meals to children for Christmas sparked a lot of support on social media.
Manchester United footballer, 22, Marcus Rashford, who stood up for the campaign, urged people to band together to protect the most vulnerable children
The Manchester United footballer thanked hundreds of cafes, pubs and restaurants who stood up after the vote to offer half-time food to children at risk.
In a statement released for the flagship program, the ace also responded to criticism of his decision to launch the campaign, saying those who wanted to talk about "celebrities" and "superstars" would find them on his Twitter feed .
Dozens of hospitality companies have shown they are partnering with Rashford, not the 322 MPs who turned down the motion by helping families over the school holidays.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, the English star said: “When we were growing up we didn't have much, but we always had the community's safety net. That community was my family.
When we stumbled we were caught with open arms. Even at their lowest point, having felt the devastating effects of the pandemic, local businesses today have guns around their communities and trapped children at risk as they fell.
Hotel giants, councils and small businesses gather to help vulnerable children
Local businesses and organizations:
- The Greystones – Sheffield
- Kingfisher Fish and Chips – Hull
- The Court – Birmingham
- Farm Fresh – Nottingham
- Rayrayz – Liverpool
- Birchwood Autumn – West Lancashire
- EJF Buffets and Banquets – Solihull
- St. James Church – Rawstenall
- The Loft Cafe Bar – Bingley
- The Gilded Room – Essex
- Oliver & # 39; s – Surrey
- Dolphins Fish and Chips – Sheffield
- Pearson & # 39; s bar-hull
- Toast 2 roasts – St Helens
- The Panda Club – Liverpool
- Manjaros – Middlesbrough
- Mumtaz – Leeds
- Barry's Tea Room – Cumbria
- The Rhubarb Shed Cafe – Sheffield
- The Vale Cafe – Rothbury
- Warrens Fruits and Vegetables – Watford
- Jennys Brackley – Brackley
- The Merry House – Whitehaven
- Jo & # 39; s Place – Wilmslow
- Bowring Park Cafe – Shropshire
- Greenfields Farm – Telford
- Minikin Art Cafe – Manchester
- Babuls – Teesdale
- The sandwich shop – Rotherham
- Khandoker – Didsbury
- The Hawthorne – Warrington
- The watering can – Liverpool
- The Pudding Pantry – Nottingham
- Patna – leek
- Astoria Bar – Urmston
- Belluno – Devon
- Aubergine café – Wirral
- The Crown Inn – Bristol
- The yard – Wigan
- The Handsworth – Sheffield
- Baker – Bolton
- Clear Games / Tranmere Rovers – Wirral
- Royal and Derngate – Northampton
- The VIllage Fish Bar – Bamber Bridge
- Bik Smoke Brew Co – Surbiton, Kingston, Hammersmith, Weybridge, Chichester, Wokingham
- Pavilion Street Kitchen – Cornwall
- Earl House Cafe – Cornwall
- The Art House – Eastbourne
- Market Hill Fishery – Winterton
- Kingfisher Fish and Chips – Hull
- The Poachers – County Durham
- Cafe Baraka – Cleethorpes
- Jordan & # 39; s Cafe – Precious
- Duke & # 39; s Head – Great Yarmouth
- Weoley Castle – Birmingham
- Portofino Ristorante – Harrogate
- Lillies Coffee Shop – Rotherham
- Kimble & # 39; s – Billingham
- No bones – Hastings
- Tintinhull Village Hall and Coffee Shop – Yeovil
Councils and regional authorities:
- Greater Manchester City Region
- Telford and Wrekin
- Kensington and Chelsea
- Cheltenham Borough Council
- Hammersmith and Fulham
- Portsmouth City Council
- North Tyneside
- St. Helens Borough
- Manchester City Council
- Birmingham City Council
- Sheffield City Council
- Knowsley Council
- Birmingham City Council
- North Tyneside Council
- St Helens Borough Council
- Hackney Council
- Portsmouth Council
- Shropshire Council
- Wolverhampton City Council
“I couldn't be more proud to call myself British tonight. I am really overwhelmed with the support.
"You want to talk about 'celebrities' and 'superstars', look no further than my Twitter feed and that's what you will find."
Some business giants are involved in the campaign, and McDonald's will be delivering a million meals for children over the next few weeks.
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson supported a campaign to offer free meals to vulnerable children.
Ms. Lawson tweeted, “It shouldn't be like this, but feeding a hungry child is more important than arguing about how it's done.
"Or rather, donate when you can and then do what it takes to stop those who make children get hungry."
Councils such as Redbridge Borough Council, Southwark Council, Hammersmith and Fulham Council and Liverpool City Council also said they would help.
And smaller companies like Aubergine Cafe in the Wirral, run by Andrew Mahon and his wife May, have started their own rescue missions for children.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham announced plans for grocery vouchers through the cooperative and tweeted, "It was good to tell @MarcusRashford that we, his hometown, want to be the first in the country to realize his vision."
After Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson unveiled a similar program in his city, he tweeted, “Families are struggling more than ever to make ends meet. No child should go hungry and in Liverpool we will not let it. Thank you for your hard work and campaign at @MarcusRashford. & # 39;
A large number of celebrities offered their support to the English star. Journalist Caitlin Moran tweeted, "Marcus Rashford's timeline makes your heart beat faster – people across the country are doing something to feed children for Christmas."
Musician Tim Burgess, a Mancunian, tweeted: “Wow, @MarcusRashford is a true hero of our time. So many MPs should be ashamed that a footballer helps those in need more than they do. & # 39;
Support also came from all over the world of football. Former England striker and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker wrote: & # 39; Well played @MarcusRashford. Check out his timeline. Exceptionally by a remarkable young man. & # 39;
A senior conservative regional politician has since fallen into an uproar, blowing up government decision-making at the last minute.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the government should make "a clear decision" on whether or not to fund free school meals "well in advance" over the holidays.
When asked if the government needs to fund half-time meals, he said, "I think last minute you probably have to fund it, the answer is that."
He added, "It shouldn't be a last minute thing, it should be planned, there should be a national approach to it."
He said the lack of planning means that there is now an "indiscriminate agreement" across the country as to whether free school meals will be offered during recess.
Funding from McDonald & # 39; s will enable charity FareShare to give groceries to families who need it most in the coming weeks.
Paul Pomroy, CEO of the United Kingdom and Ireland said: & # 39; As a company, we are committed to supporting and serving the communities in which we operate.
“In these challenging times, we know it is more important than ever to support those most in need.
“When we temporarily closed our restaurants in March, our employees, franchisees and suppliers gathered to provide food banks and charities with excess food and support.
& # 39; We were delighted to be able to donate excess groceries through FareShare and other organizations earlier this year and we admire the fantastic work FareShare continues to do to support families in very difficult situations.
"I am excited to be helping distribute a million meals to families in need this fall, and I would like to thank and congratulate FareShare for everything they are doing."
Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare added, & # 39; McDonalds is showing real leadership in helping the most vulnerable in society to access healthy food during this critical time.
"The funding will allow the equivalent of 1 million meals to be distributed to our charity network very quickly, and we are grateful for your urgent support."
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