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Fri, 27 November 2020

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A Labour MP Is Asking A Tory To Quit As Trustee Of An Anti-Hunger Charity After She Voted Against A Free School Meals Extension

A Labour MP Is Asking A Tory To Quit As Trustee Of An Anti-Hunger Charity After She Voted Against A Free School Meals Extension
3 min read

Conservative MP Jo Gideon is being asked to quit as a trustee of an anti-hunger charity after voting down plans to extend free school meals into the holidays backed by Marcus Rashford.

Feeding Britain - whose President is Archbishop Justin Welby - has done extensive reserach into holiday hunger among children. 

Today Emma Lewell Buck, MP for South Shields, who co-founded the organisation in 2015 with former MP Frank Field, said Gideon's actions did not fit with their mission statement and she "needs to go". 

The Labour MP told PoliticsHome: "Our opening gambit is 'hunger has no place in 21st century Britain' and to have done that [voting against] reduces faith in our charity and it smears the rest of the trustees as well.

"I will be writing to Jo and asking her to resign."

Gideon, who is also chair of the all-party parliamentary group for national food strategy, voted down Labour's motion to extend free school meals to children in the holidays until next Easter. The Stoke-on-Trent Central MP said she wanted more fundamental solutions to hunger and to work cross-party rather than a "headline grabbing motion". 

Lewell Buck said: "I set this charity up, it's something very close to my heart. I understand in Parliament it's difficult to break the whip but some of her colleagues who felt passionate about this, that kids don't go without. 

"You can't legitimately sit as a trustee of a charity that has our aims and then do the opposite in Parliament."

She is writing to the charity's other trustees to ask for their support in calling for her resignation and to Gideon directly this afternoon to ask her to step down. 

Feeding Britain previously endorsed a 2018 bill led by Field in that would have given local authorities both the duties and the resources they need to provide free meals during school holidays. 

It is understood Gideon became a trustee earlier this year. Other trustees are Baroness Boycott, charity chair, Conservative Baroness Jenkin and the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, Bishop at Lambeth.

Tory MP Caroline Ansell today quit her role as parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs after voting with Labour to extend the meals into the holidays.

She said: "In these unprecedented times I am very concerned to be doing all we can to help lower income families and their children who are really struggling due to the impact of the virus."

Feeding Britain's board is understood to be 'reviewing the situation'. 

In a Facebook post, Gideon wrote: "Nobody has said that children should go hungry and any suggestion that an MP would think so is deeply divisive, unhelpful and utterly misleading.

"The vote was to determine whether the provision for children’s meals outside of term-time falls to schools or the Government. The responsibility for feeding children lies with parents and guardians, and where not possible, the State, through cash grants to local charities and Councils to help the most vulnerable however they see fit, e.g. food parcels."

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