The Prime Minister announced that around 1.3 million children currently entitled to free lunches in England will receive vouchers worth £15 a week, which can be spent in supermarkets.
The Manchester United striker spoke to Mr Johnson this afternoon after changing his mind about giving free school lunches to disadvantaged children over the summer, following a number of Tory MPs supporting calls from the star.
English footballer Marcus Rashford personally thanked Boris Johnson today after the Prime Minister made a major U-turn in his huge campaign for free school meals over the summer.
The reversal followed a growing Tory revolt that forced him to rethink after he had rejected Rashford’s appeal. The footballer told his legion of social media supporters earlier, “We are not beaten yet”.
Downing Street said the £120 million Covid summer food fund was a “one-off” recognition of the struggles families faced when the coronavirus suspension sent the economy into a tailspin. The Prime Minister fully understands the problems faced by families across Britain in these difficult times,” said Johnson’s spokesperson.
And a spokesman for 22-year-old Rashford said: “Marcus thanked the Prime Minister for turning the tide on a decision that could have damaged the stability of families across the country.
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Rashford welcomed the news this afternoon and tweeted: “I don’t even know what to say. Just see what we can do when we come together, THAT is England in 2020”.
Labour and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey risked exacerbating the situation by tweeting with Rashford after he said children had no access to showers.
Former Health Minister Jeremy Hunt was among those who said the position had to change, while the chairman of the Special Committee on Education, Robert Halfon, threatened to vote against the government later in a debate in the House of Commons.
He added: “There is still a long way to go, but I am grateful to all of you for giving these families one less thing to worry about tonight.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “This is another welcome turnaround from Boris Johnson. The thought that 1.3 million children would go hungry this summer was unimaginable. Well done to @MarcusRashford and many others who have spoken so forcefully on this issue”.
Nicola Sturgeon confirmed at her daily coronavirus press conference that local councils in Scotland will receive a further £12.6 million to extend supplies until schools reopen from 11 August.
The Prime Minister acted as he faced isolation as governments in Scotland and Wales agreed to extend the school feeding programme.
Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, a vocal critic of Mr Johnson’s approach to brexite, which stopped when he adjourned Parliament in 2019, had previously urged him to change his mind and “feed the children” as the
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “The Prime Minister welcomes his contribution to the debate on poverty and respects the fact that he has used his profile as a leading sportsman to highlight important issues.
The Scottish Executive has funded lunch for around 175,000 children during the lockdown with the help of hubs, supermarket vouchers and cash payments.
She said: “I am amazed why [Westminster] colleagues choose this hill to die. I did not have or need free school meals, but I went to a school where a huge percentage did. Food security during the holidays is so important. It is fundamental. Feed the children’.
Tory Congressman George Freeman also tweeted: “Free school lunches are a lifeline for many low-income families. Let’s do the right thing: extend school feeding until the summer. Theresa May’s former Tory adviser, Nick Timothy, said: “Congratulations to Marcus Rashford, who I expect to declare victory some time before this afternoon’s debate on Opposition Day.
The Conservative Chairman of the Special Committee on Education, Robert Halfon MP, described Marcus Rashford as “an inspiration and a hero of our time” and said it was “right to find the £110 million to extend the programme”.
Mr Johnson had previously been forced to make another U-turn after days of resistance by
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