Boris Johnson has failed to reply to a personal letter from Marcus Rashford about his campaign to feed hungry children during the holidays.

The Prime Minister is said to have snubbed a message where the footballer asked Mr Johnson to join his taskforce to end child food poverty.

Mr Johnson is under immense pressure to u-turn on his refusal to extend free school meals to more than 1.4 million children over the half term and Christmas breaks.

Senior Tory backbencher Sir Bernard Jenkin said the Government had "misunderstood" the mood in the country and described the row as an example of "how little faith" people have in the Government's "conduct”

And Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield said Tories denying youngsters free meals over the holidays is like something from Oliver Twist.

In a private letter to Downing Street in September, the England and Manchester United strike said free school meal vouchers were a short term solution, and appealed to the PM for "teamwork" to fix the issue, Sky News reported.

Footballer Marcus Rashford has been campaigning to end child hunger

The football star thanked Mr Johnson "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.

"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."

Downing Street has been approached for comment.

Sir Bernard, who chairs the powerful Commons Liaison Committee, broke ranks to say the Government had got it wrong in a sign of mounting alarm among Conservatives about the plans.

"I think we have to admit that we have misunderstood the mood of the country here," he told Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

"Yes we've given money to local government, my own Essex County Council has got a programme funded by central government that's going to be supporting kids who need free school meals across the county.

"But I think the public want to see the Government taking a national lead on this, and I think the Government will probably have to think again on that - particularly if there are going to be more votes in the House of Commons."

Sir Bernard said he would consider what the Government was saying before deciding how to vote if the issue was brought back to the Commons.

But Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis doubled down on the Government's position and denied a u-turn was coming.

He said: "I know this is a very emotive issue, it's a sensitive issue and it's something affects families in my constituency as well as around the country.

"I think the position we have taken is the right position as what we are looking to do is to ensure we deal with child poverty at the core."

Mr Lewis dodged questions about whether the PM had snubbed a letter from Mr Rashford, but praised the footballer for his campaign.

He said: "The campaign has clearly inspired people across the country. Huge credit to him.

"It's a phenomenal thing to raise the profile in the way he has about child poverty."

Backing footballer Mr Rashford's campaign to feed hungry kids out of classes, Ms Longfield admitted she was “horrified” and “really disappointed” by the debate.

She told Sky News: “We are a wealthy country, it's 2020 and to ave a debate about whether hungry and vulnerable children should have enough to eat is strikingly similar to what we would expect to see in Oliver Twist, a novel published in the 19th Century”. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer vowed to push the issue to a vote in the Commons again.

He said: "Labour will force another vote on free school meals if the Government does not change course before the Christmas break.

"It's not too late to do the right thing."

It comes after Tory MPs blocked a Labour motion to extend the free school meals scheme in the Commons on Wednesday.

More than 2,000 paediatricians signed a letter urging Mr Johnson to extend free school meals to vulnerable children during the holidays, saying childhood hunger should "transcend politics".

Members of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said they were shocked by the Government's "refusal" to do so, and praised Mr Rashford for his "powerful campaigning" on the issue.

The open letter from members says: "Childhood hunger is an issue that should transcend politics.

"Few would disagree that one of our most basic human responsibilities is to ensure children have enough to eat."