United Kingdom

66% believe UK government SHOULD extend free school meals

Two thirds of Britons back Marcus Rashford and believe the Government should help feed the poorest schoolchildren during the holidays, with more than half saying that ministers' refusal to do so makes them look 'unkind'.  

A new poll for MailOnline suggests that official attempts to rebuff the campaign led by England football ace Marcus Rashford are badly out of kilter with the feelings of voters.

A survey for this website by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found that there is overwhelming support for aid for those struggling the most during the coronavirus crisis.

Some 66 per cent agree that the Government should take some responsibility for feeding the poorest children when schools are closed.

And in a sign that may alarm Downing Street, 54 per cent of those polled believed that attempts to argue that there are better ways of helping are making the Government look miserly. 

The same amount believe that the Government's handling of the row was 'inept'.   

People take part in a protest outside the Department for Education in Westminster with messages directed at the UK government to reconsider their recent decision not to provide free school meals until Easter 2021

The survey of 3,000 people was carried out on Wednesday as Boris Johnson was under pressure to reverse his decision not to extend free meals.

Mr Rashford's petition to end child food poverty passed an incredible one million signatures  this week.

The online petition, titled 'End child food poverty – no child should be going hungry', reached the milestone and continues to rise constantly as more members of the public support the footballer's campaign. 

Tory backbenchers this week denounced the Government's handling of the free meals row as 'shockingly inept' and a 's*** show'. 

A Labour motion to extend meals until Easter 2021 was voted down by MPs in the Commons last week, to the general fury of much of the public.

The England ace quickly blasted Tory MPs who overwhelmingly rejected the scheme and rallied an army of sympathisers on Twitter to put the Government under pressure.

Meanwhile Labour has taken a five-point lead over the Conservatives amid the fall-out from Boris Johnson's handling of the coronavirus crisis in a separate poll today. 

An Ipsos MORI poll today puts Labour on 42 per cent, up five, while the Tories have slumped three points to 37 per cent. It is Labour's first lead over the Conservatives since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister.

In contrast, Sir Keir Starmer was on 26, the best of any Labour leader at this stage of their leadership in the past 35 years - apart from Tony Blair. But the poll has carried out before yesterday's anti-Semitism report release which led to Jeremy Corbyn being suspended.

The poll also found increasing pessimism over the economy, amid fears that England could completely be placed into lockdown.

More than seven in 10 (71 per cent) believe that the economy will get worse in the next year, up 5 per cent on last month.

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