Marcus Rashford has vowed to continue representing “vulnerable children” after members of the UK parliament voted against providing free school meals to low-income families over the holidays.
The Manchester United striker had called for the government to extend a scheme to provide 1.5 million children with food vouchers during holidays until Easter 2021 but the proposal was voted down on Wednesday — 261 votes to 322.
The opposition Labour Party had called the motion to a vote but the Conservative government largely rejected the idea, with Prime Minster Boris Johnson also voting against the proposal.
Rashford, who was recently awarded an MBE for his work tackling food poverty, promised to keep up the fight and urged politicians to unite behind the effort.
“Put aside all the noise, the digs, the party politics, and let’s focus on the reality. A significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter because of comments that have been made today,” he wrote on Twiiter on Wednesday.
“We must stop stigmatising, judging and pointing fingers. Our views are being clouded by political affiliation. This is not politics, this is humanity.”
Rashford had earlier clashed with number of UK lawmakers before the vote after the 22-year-old said he would be keeping an eye on proceedings.
Ben Bradley MP argued the current government was doing a lot for vulnerable families and tweeted “extending freebies are a sticking plaster not a solution.”
Rashford responded: “Nobody is pointing fingers, I’m asking we work together to protect our most vulnerable children dealing with the devastating effects of the pandemic. This is nothing to do with politics.”
Meanwhile, Conservative Party MP David Simmonds said that Rashford’s time receiving free school meals had occurred under a Labour government and Brendan Clarke-Smith MP said he opposed the idea of “nationalising children.”
“Instead, we need to get back to the idea of taking responsibility, and this means less celebrity virtue-signalling on Twitter by proxy and more action to tackle the real causes of child poverty,” said Clarke-Smith.
After an impassioned campaign earlier this year, Rashford forced the UK government to reverse its decision to not extend free school meal vouchers throughout the summer holidays amid the pandemic.
The Manchester Unisted star said the latest knock back would not deter him from campaigning on the issue.
“I don’t have the education of a politician, many on Twitter have made that clear today, but I have a social education having lived through this and having spent time with the families and children most affected,” he wrote.
“These children matter. 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.”
Rashford’s extraordinary efforts of the pitch have not stopped the England international from impressing on it.
The striker scored a sensational goal on Tuesday as Manchester United beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the Champions League.