MINISTERS yesterday hinted at a major climbdown over Marcus Rashford’s plea to extend free school meals at Christmas.MPs hinted at a major climbdown over Marcus Rashford’s plea to extend free school meals at ChristmasCredit: Getty Images - Getty Marcus's campaign has been hailed as 'phenomenal' by MP Brandon LewisCredit: PA:Press Association The football star tweeted thanks to the media for helping publicise his campaign
Three powerful senior Tory MPs broke cover to demand a rethink.
And they warned they would vote with Labour on giving vouchers to parents of the poorest kids during school holidays.
Hailing the “phenomenal” campaign by the England striker, Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis indicated reforms may be worked out for the festive period.
The Northern Ireland Secretary said: “What we are looking to do is put in place the structure that means even in the school holidays children can get access to the food they need.”
And he suggested ministers are studying how “people who need that extra support, very targeted and very directly, can get that support” from local councils.Boris Johnson was accused of 'misreading the mood of Britain' by rebuffing the footballer’s campaignCredit: AP:Associated Press
Another minister said the PM is “standing firm on the principle that there are broader and bigger reforms of child poverty required rather than another sticking plaster”.
But he did not rule out helping children to eat outside term-time.
The hints of a rowback came as Sir Bernard Jenkin, a Vote Leave sidekick of the Prime Minister, blasted No 10’s handling of the dispute, saying: “I think we have to admit that we have misunderstood the mood of the country here.”
And he added: “I think the Government will probably have to think again.”
Labour vowed to put the issue to another vote.
Ex-Tory minister Tobias Ellwood said he was wrong to vote with the Government against a free school meals extension last week.
Fellow former minister Tim Loughton warned Downing Street is making “a mistake” and he would vote with those calling for an extension next time.
In a further blow to No 10, children’s commissioner Anne Longfield accused Mr Johnson of treating the poorest children like Oliver Twist, adding she had been “horrified and really disappointed” by last week’s vote.
Mr Lewis insisted the PM had the “right position”.Marcus and mum Melanie at a FareShare site in Greater Manchester that helps combat food povertyCredit: PA:Press Association The Man Utd star helped out at the charityCredit: PA:Press Association The 22-year-old was awarded an MBE for his free school meals campaignCredit: PA:Press Association
But he finally heaped praise on hundreds of small businesses who have offered to feed children over this week’s half-term.
On Twitter he praised the media for helping to highlight support from firms.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis defends govt's stance on Marcus Rashford free school meals plan
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