On Wednesday 21st, MPs voted to reject a plan that would ensure free school meals for children during October’s week of half term and over the winter holidays.
The motion originated as a campaign set up by Manchester United and England football player Marcus Rashford, who over the summer holidays successfully provided children access to free meals in schools.
However, when the motion arrived at the House of Commons, MPs voted to reject it 322 to 261, with 320 of votes against coming from Conservative MPs. Some reasons given by those who voted against include “it increases dependency” as stated by Conservative MP Ben Bradley, and Brendan Clarke-Smith’s belief against “nationalising children”.
Amongst the list of Conservative MPs who voted to reject the motion is Angela Richardson, representing the constituency of Guildford and Cranleigh, who wrote up a statement that can be found on her Facebook page that declares “It is not responsible to make policy on national campaigns, how ever well-intentioned.” and encourages people who are struggling to reach out to her for help.
When asked by The Stag for comment, Angela Richardson did not reply.
In response to the voting, the University of Surrey and its Students Union came together in a campaign to ensure that school children in the local area would still have access to free meals over the half term holiday week, with SU president Lizzie Rodulson stating on an SU Instagram post: “The vote on Free School Meals, including a vote against from our local Guildford MP, is diabolical and as a Students Union, we couldn’t stand by and watch – we had to do something.”
In recent developments, Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains firm in his decision to not extend free meal vouchers into the winter holidays, despite growing pressure from council leaders to increase support, as well as pressure from the general public, with Marcus Rashford’s petition having surpassed a million signatures Wednesday the 28th.