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Despite Health Secretary Matt Hancock claiming Prime Minister Boris Johnson had contacted Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United footballer has said that isn’t true.
Rashford, 22, has been leading the conversation following the controversial vote against the provision of free school meals during the holidays until at least Easter 2021.
He’s been a passionate campaigner, using his various platforms to address the need for action on child hunger and poverty in the UK. However, despite the health secretary’s claims, Rashford hasn’t been speaking to Johnson.
Watch a clip from Hancock’s latest interview below:
During a recent appearance on BBC Breakfast, Hancock – who voted against the free school meals motion – said, ‘There has been communication between the two as far as I understand it.’
He added, ‘I understand that there has been communication but I am obviously not in charge of the prime minister’s correspondence. If there hasn’t been I’m sure that will be followed up.’
Rashford then responded on Twitter, referring to the government’s earlier announcement of a £120 million COVID-19 ‘summer fund’, writing, ‘Hmm, unless he’s referring to the call we had following the U-turn in June?’
Hancock, despite voting no, also told Sky News, ‘I agree very strongly with the purpose of the campaign run by Marcus Rashford. I think we’re all inspired by the way he’s led that campaign. And the purpose is that no child should go hungry, and that’s right.’
He added that £63 million ‘has gone to councils so that they can do exactly what you say, so that they can support people and make sure that everybody and every child gets the support that they need’.
A petition launched by the footballer, titled ‘End child food poverty – no child should be going hungry’, has racked up more than 886,000 signatures at the time of writing. The vote sparked nationwide backlash, with thousands of local and large organisations – including McDonald’s – pledging to offer free school meals.
Rashford tweeted, ‘Those who have rallied around our communities, please continue to do so, you are the real pride of Britain. Some of our children will be waking up anxious this Monday morning, let’s show them that there is never any shame in asking for help.’
Yesterday, October 25, more than 2,000 paediatricians also signed a letter pressuring the government to make a U-turn on the decision. ‘Childhood hunger is an issue that should transcend politics. Few would disagree that one of our most basic human responsibilities is to ensure children have enough to eat,’ the letter reads.
While appearing on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin conceded, ‘I think we have to admit that we have misunderstood the mood of the country here.’
It’s estimated that a further 900,000 children in England have claimed for free school meals since the start of the pandemic.
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