School meals: Boris Johnson has not been in touch since June over campaign to feed hungry children, says Marcus Rashford

Andrew Woodcock
·2-min read
Marcus Rashford (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Marcus Rashford (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has not been in touch with Marcus Rashford for more than four months to discuss his campaign to feed hungry children, the football star said today.

The comment effectively confirmed reports that the prime minister failed to respond to a letter in September in which the Manchester United and England striker appealed for “teamwork” to deal with the problem in the long term.

Rashford dismissed a claim by health secretary Matt Hancock that the prime minister had communicated with him over his calls for free school meals to be funded through the October half-term and Christmas holiday.

In a tweet responding to Mr Hancock’s claim, the footballer said: “Hmm, unless he’s referring to the call we had following the U-turn in June?…”

Mr Johnson called Rashford in mid-June after executing a humbling about-turn on school meals, agreeing to extend a voucher scheme introduced at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak to cover the summer holidays.

At the time, the PM bizarrely claimed not to have been aware previously of the footballer’s campaign, despite it dominating news headlines for a number of days.

It emerged at the weekend that Rashford wrote a private letter to Johnson in September, warning that vouchers were only a short-term solution and urging the PM to join a taskforce he had created to tackle child food poverty.

It is understood that he received no response.

In a round of media interviews today, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “We have all seen what Marcus Rashford has done, and the way he has conducted himself in this campaign I think is absolutely exemplary.

“He is making an argument based on his personal experience for the benefit of people who really need that support.”

And he added: “There has been communication between the two, as far as I understand it.”

Pressed on the response from Number 10, Mr Hancock added: “I’m not in charge of the Prime Minister’s correspondence – if there hasn’t been, I’m sure that that will be followed up.”

The comments came amid speculation that Mr Johnson is about to effect a climbdown from his refusal to offer state funding to help feed vulnerable children, and may be drawing up a scheme to provide assistance during the Christmas break.

Read more

700,000 sign petition against MPs’ subsidised food - follow live

Sterling foundation to help young people after Rashford campaign

Petition for government support on free school meals nears a million

Rashford ‘proud’ at local response to free school meals over half-term