Former ministers within the party are now leading a large group of MPs who have warned the Prime Minister must resolve the issue. If the Prime Minister does not find a solution to the uproar caused over free school meals, MPs have insisted they will vote against the Government. The MPs within the party have shared messages with colleagues criticising the Government for how it has handled Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals for underprivileged children during the school holidays.
The rebel group is now demanding the Government reverses the decision and supply children with free school meals over Christmas.
One former minister told The Daily Telegraph: “Potentially, there are more than 100 MPs who are with us on this one.
“The WhatsApp groups that I’m on are just going crazy with anger at the machinery, and that we’ve managed to score yet another own goal.”
A second said: “The clock is ticking. I am not with you unless you come up with something better.”
A third former minister also said: “The Government has handled it appallingly and been completely outmanoeuvred by Labour.
“The briefings have been hopeless, ministers have been hopeless.”
Former minister and MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, Tim Loughton called the Government’s refusal to extend the voucher system as a “mistake”.
Mr Loughton told The Daily Telegraph: “It is not a question of voting with Labour.
JUTS IN: Here we go! Brexiteer tears apart Remainers as UK signs trade deal
Last week, MPs rejected a motion from Labour emotion to extend free school meals by 322 votes to 261.
Due to the uproar over the proposal, Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to hold a second vote on the issue if the Government does not reconsider its response.
Ministers have so far defended the decision and claimed the universal credit allowance has been increased.
They also stated an extra £63million funding had already been provided for councils to help families in hardship.
Despite the Government’s refusal to continue the scheme over the holidays, councils and businesses announced plans to supply children with food during the pandemic.
Rashford’s campaign has also gained over 800,000 to call for the Government to reverse its decision.
Chair of the education select committee, Robert Halfon also said: “They need to set out a long-term plan to combat child food hunger, not only looking at rolling out free school meal vouchers at Christmas temporarily during the pandemic, but also rolling out breakfast clubs, introducing a holiday activities programme, and examining Universal Credit.”
In defence of the Government’s decision, Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis said: “We’ve put the uplift into universal credit, just over £1000 a year.
“But also very specifically we’ve put £63m into local authorities to support and help people in hardship and a number of local authorities are using it to do exactly that.
“We’ve put that support in there and I think that’s the right way to do it because the schools aren’t open so it’s making sure that the welfare system can put the support in, targeted where it’s needed most.”