South Thanet MP defends voting against extending free school meals

Craig Mackinlay, the MP for South Thanet, has rejected the idea that he “voted against free school meals.”

Many Thanet residents expressed anger over Mackinlay’s vote on Wednesday night, where he voted against extending free school meals through school holidays until Easter next year.

He accused the original motion of being “purely political” in that the bill “looked so reasonable it couldn’t possibly be opposed.”

“Such motions, even if carried, have no statutory basis and don’t become new law; it is the role of government to bring to Parliament new law and spending plans which Parliament can then consider soberly.”

Gillian Pollard (63) has lived in Thanet for twenty years. She was outraged by MacKinalay’s vote. “Thanet is a very deprived area, it’s totally disgusting that Craig MacKinlay does not support the people in his constituency.”

Thanet has one of the highest child poverty figures in the country, with 21.4% of children living in absolute low income families. This is the highest figure in Kent, and the second highest in the south of England.

Mackinlay appeared to support free school meals when he tweeted on Wednesday evening, sharing a graphic that claimed the Conservatives were supporting low-income pupils.

Many twitter users reacted in confusion to this, feeling there was a disconnect between the message and the vote he cast. This included English comedian Sue Perkins, who replied “You didn’t. Your post is a lie.”

Footballer Marcus Rashford successfully campaigned earlier in the year to have free school meals extended through the summer holidays. He released a statement on his twitter page on Wednesday evening.

“We talk about the devastating impact of Covid-19 but, if projections are anything to go by, child food poverty has the potential to become the greatest pandemic the country has ever faced.”

“These children are the future of this country. They are not just another statistic. And for as long as they don’t have a voice, they will have mine. You have my word on that.”