A Conservative Member of Parliament has said she very much hopes that businesses offering to feed hungry children for free ‘will not be seeking any further government support’, as the row over free school meals continues.
In a now-deleted Facebook post MP Selaine Saxby, who represents North Devon, 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.’
Saxby is one of more than 300 Tories who voted against extending free school meals to Britain’s poorest children through the half term and Christmas holidays on Wednesday.
After facing intense criticism online for her comment Saxby insisted her words had been taken out of context. She did not explain the context they should have been read in.
Leaders in North Devon, where the hospitality industry has been particularly hard-hit by the flu-like pandemic, have responded furiously to Saxby’s comments, with the North Devon Liberal Democrats spokesperson telling Devon Live: ’I am stunned at what I have read from Saxby’.
‘Not only has she tried to justify the fact that she has voted in a way that could see children go hungry, but she’s also attacked the hospitality industry in North Devon who have taken one of the biggest beatings during this pandemic, but still step forward to support children.’
The North Devon MP’s Facebook post began to circulate just hours after fellow Tory MP Ben Bradley, suggested free school meal vouchers for the children in his constituency ‘effectively’ went to crack dens and brothels (thought to be a euphemism for care homes).
The conversation has since been deleted from Twitter, but not before it was screenshot and met with huge backlash on social media. Like Saxby, Bradley has also claimed his comments were taken out of context.
Saxby and Bradley are amongst 112 MPs who signed letter to Labour leader Keir Starmer claiming that Angela Rayner’s ‘scum’ comment had provoked ‘widespread abuse’ towards Tories.
The letters calls for the opposition leader to ‘publicly apologise for Angela Rayner’s record of un-parliamentary behaviour’, complaining that the deputy leader’s use of the word ‘scum’ (for which she has since publicly apologised) had led to it trending on Twitter and sparking abusive phone calls.
But critics of the government have accused the Tories of trying to shift the blame for public anger onto Labour, instead of addressing the widespread unpopularity of their vote against a motion to extend free school meals. Source
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