Conservatives block free school meals plan

The government has blocked a Labour motion to provide free school meals until Easter 2021 by 322 votes to 261. A handful of Conservative MPs rebelled, but the prime minister had whipped them to oppose the plan on the grounds that schools were not obliged to provide meals during the holidays.

The Food Foundation reports that some 6.3% of children are worried about being underfed during the upcoming half-term, while more than 1.4m suffer from food insecurity during the holidays. Campaigners, such as the footballer Marcus Rashford, argue that this problem will be exacerbated by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Kate Green, the shadow education secretary, said: “No child should go hungry over the holidays, but the government is blocking the action needed to prevent this. We pay tribute to Marcus Rashford and others for shining a spotlight on this incredibly important issue. This campaign is not over and the government must reconsider."

Boris Johnson told Prime Minister’s Questions: “We support kids of low incomes in school and we will continue to do so. We will continue to use the benefit system and all the systems of income support to support young people and children throughout the holidays as well."

Rashford has since begun retweeting businesses that have offered to feed children for free during half-term using the hashtag #EndChildPoverty.