PM failed to reply to ‘personal’ letter sent by Rashford asking for help feeding hungry children

Politics

Boris Johnson failed to reply to a “personal” letter sent by Marcus Rashford in which the footballer asked the prime minister to join a taskforce he created to help tackle child food poverty.

Sky News understands that the letter was sent privately in September alongside a public letter that thanked the government for the voucher scheme over the summer, which helped families struggling to put food on the table.

The private letter to Number 10 said the vouchers – which Rashford campaigned for – were only a short term solution, and went on to call for “teamwork” to help feed hungry children in the long term.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions on June 17, 2020 in London, England. Yesterday Boris Johnson announced the government would continue to provide free school meal vouchers to eligible children throughout the summer holidays, following a petition by Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashford.
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Boris Johnson apparently failed to respond to Rashford’s ‘personal’ letter

Sky’s chief political correspondent Jon Craig said: “Right at the beginning of September Mr Rashford wrote two letters.

“One, a public letter to all MPs asking for support.

“And then a personal letter to the PM, in which he thanked the prime minister for putting allegiance aside and taking swift action in the summer – crediting him for positively impacting millions of children’s lives across the UK.

“He said he was grateful and he said the voucher scheme was only a short term solution, and that we have to work towards implementing a long term solution.

More from Marcus Rashford

“He shared some stories of the families he had met called for teamwork asked if he would join the his taskforce, it’s that letter to which he has not received a reply, according to the Rashford team.”

In response, a government spokesperson said they were committed to making sure the most vulnerable were protected, and added that free school meals will continue during term-time.

It comes after a Conservative MP who sparked anger after commenting on local businesses donating free meals to children over the half-term holiday said she regretted causing offence.

After dozens of organisations offered to help, Selaine Saxby, who is Tory MP for North Devon, posted a comment on Facebook which seemed to question the gesture.

She wrote: “I am delighted our local businesses have bounced back so much after lockdown they are able to give away food for free, and very much hope they will not be seeking any further government support.”

Her post has since been deleted.

In a statement, Ms Saxby said her comments were “out of context” adding: “I of course deeply regret any offence which may have been caused.”

Another Tory MP, Ben Bradley, also said his words were taken “out of context” after a comment he made on social media seemed to imply that money from free school meal vouchers ended up in “crack dens and brothels”.

The MP for Mansfield replied to a tweet in which another user described the free school meals programme as “£20 cash direct to a crack den and a brothel”, writing: “That’s what FSM vouchers in the summer effectively did…”

Mr Bradley later claimed he was trying to say that giving children who live in “chaotic” situations an “unrestricted voucher to spend on whatever isn’t helpful”.

Labour MPs pointed out the vouchers in summer could only be used to buy food, and asked for evidence of abuse of the voucher system.

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