Children’s minister Vicky Ford has been blasted for ‘taking the credit’ for Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals.
The Tory minister said the Manchester United star’s successful campaign to pressure Prime Minister Boris Johnson into an embarrassing U-turn over the Government’s free school meals policy was ‘some really super work’.
But she told Good Morning Britain hosts Susanna Reid and Adil Ray that she ‘extended free school meals to more groups of children than any Government in the past 50 years’.
She also denied voting against extending free school meals through the Christmas holidays in October – saying she only voted against the ‘voucher system’ as other measures were in place.
When asked if she was suggesting that Mr Rashford was ‘wasting his time’ by intervening and the Government was ‘doing it all already’, she said schemes to support children were in the works for three years.
Outraged viewers blasted her comments, saying Ms Ford has ‘no shame’ in ‘taking credit’ for Mr Rashford’s work.
Children’s minister Vicky Ford was blasted for ‘taking the credit’ for Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals on Good Morning Britain
The Tory minister said the Manchester United star’s (pictured) successful campaign to pressure Prime Minister Boris Johnson into an embarrassing U-turn over the Government’s free school meals policy was ‘some really super work’
Others accused her of ‘brazen lies and history rewriting’ in her retelling of events.
In October this year, the Government whipped Conservative MPs to vote against a Labour motion in the House of Commons calling for the extension of free school meal for around 1.3million eligible children.
The motion followed months of campaigning by Mr Rashford who had been calling on the Government to provide free school meals for poverty-stricken children throughout the pandemic since lockdown started in March.
In November – just weeks after the vote – the Prime Minister personally phoned Mr Rashford to tell him of the Government’s u-turn on the issue, announcing £170 million of extra funding for the measure.
It followed a similar u-turn from Downing Street after pressure from Mr Rashford on £15-a-week food vouchers for families living in poverty over the Summer.
Today, GMB presenter Ms Reid asked Ms Ford why it took a footballer to make the Government extend the free school meals scheme, adding: ‘Why is it the work of Marcus Rashford that made that happen?’
In October this year, the Government whipped Conservative MPs to vote against a Labour motion in the House of Commons calling for the extension of free school meal for around 1.3million eligible children. Pictured: Boris Johnson
The motion followed months of campaigning by Mr Rashford (pictured with his mother) who had been calling on the Government to provide free school meals for poverty-stricken children throughout the pandemic since lockdown started in March
The minister replied: ‘No it isn’t actually Susanna.
‘I had extended the free schools meal to more groups of children right at the beginning of this lockdown and the eligibility for free schools meals and set up very very challenging, very very early on.’
When asked if she feels the work of Mr Rashford was ‘irrelevant’, she replied: ‘Hugely respect Marcus and the campaign he’s been doing and we’ve been putting extra support in through the whole period, he has been very supportive of the work that we’ve been doing to extend that Covid Winter Grant which will continue to support children of families in this Easter holidays.
‘The other thing that I’ve been working on way early on was the Holiday Activities and Food Programme which we ran in pilot projects for the past three years.’
The Covid Winter Grant was announced on November 8 last year. It is money paid through local councils to support families who have faced hardship in the pandemic.
The Holiday Activities and Food Programme is a similar scheme to support children during the 2021 Easter, summer and Christmas holidays.
When asked if she was suggesting that Mr Rashford was ‘wasting his time’ by intervening and the Government was ‘doing it all already’, Ms Ford (pictured) said schemes to support children were in the works for three years
Co-host Mr Ray – who returned to the show this morning – added: ‘Are you saying that you would be doing this anyway, regardless of Marcus Rashford and the call with the Prime Minister. Twice he had to intervene.
‘Are you saying he was wasting his time? You were doing it all already?’
Ms Ford replied: ‘For example, the holiday activities and food programme we’ve been piloting for the past three years, we had a manifesto commitment to increase that childcare element, billion pound manifesto commitment at the last general election.’
‘As part of that we’re rolling out that holiday activities food scheme all across the country, yes there were projects we were already working on and we’re very glad for the work that Marcus Rashford that we’ve been focusing on.
When Ms Ford was reminded that she voted against the motion to extend free school meals through the Christmas holidays in October, she said: ‘No, I voted against the voucher system being done by schools in the holidays because there were other ways we were putting support in – such as the Covid Winter Grant scheme – and that’s really important.
‘Because we had put in support elsewhere, we’ve continued to do that through the Covid Winter Grant scheme.’
She added: ‘Marcus has done some really super work in this period, but I have extended free school meals to more groups of children than any Government in the past 50 years, we’re rolling out our holiday activity and food scheme across the whole country, which is a manifesto commitment to increase childcare.
‘We’ve been piloting that for three years to make sure that when it does go live that it works well.
‘It’s really, really important and indeed Marcus himself supports great to have his support.’
Ms Ford was also asked about pictures of paltry food parcels sent to parents of children on free school meals to cover at least five days of lunches during lockdown.
She admitted that ‘there were some shocking pictures of a few lunchboxes… but the vast majority have worked well’.
Viewers rushed to Twitter to blast her account of events.
One said: ‘Talk about gaslighting, ministers who are associating themselves with Marcus Rashford after voting against the extension of free school meals like Vicky Ford on GMB.
‘Bloody disgrace. They have no shame.’
Philip Airey said: ‘The interview with Vicky Ford was unbelievable.
‘The woman has no shame. To suggest that Marcus Rashford did not force the Government into a u-turn re school meals was a lie.’
Another viewer comically added: ‘Vicky Ford has just made a mad dash to win the part of Pinnocchio in the Tory pantomime season.’
One Twitter user wrote: ‘Vicky Ford voted against free school meals in October along with 300 of her Tory mates.
‘Why cant they admit when they get things wrong. They think if they don’t stop talking they wont have to answer.’
Louise Lawford added: ‘Can’t believe what I’ve just watched on Good Morning Britain.
‘MP Vicky Ford taking the credit for Marcus Rashford’s campaigning.’
Gareth Llewelyn: ‘Well done to GMB for challenging the brazen lies and history rewriting of the Children’s Minister Vicky Ford.
‘Brazenly claiming credit for things she voted against and belittling the efforts of Marcus Rashford, shocking dishonesty.
Cathy Rivlin said: ‘Smug unpleasantness emanating from Vicky Ford and her claiming the credit for Marcus Rashford’s work was cringe worthy and arrogant rubbish.’
Mark Healey wrote: ‘Vicky Ford on GMB the worst lies I have ever seen from a politician and that’s saying something.
‘It wasn’t Marcus Rashford we’d been planning on extending the free school meals for three years. No action though was there. Disgraceful!’