Conservative MP Ben Bradley has infuriated BBC Breakfast viewers after he tried to defend the Government’s latest decision. MPs vote to reject footballer Marcus Rashford’s call to extend free school meal vouchers for children in England during the holidays.
Mr Bradley came under fire on social media for “defending the indefensible”. Mr Bradley was also grilled regarding some controversial comments he had made on his social media about the situation.
Host Naga Munchetty ripped into Bradley over a tweet he had sent that implied that free school meals vouchers were being used as cash directly to “crack dens and brothels”. The MP shot back that it had been taken “totally out of context”. He said: “I was merely making a point that there are kids who live in really chaotic situations and giving them an unrestricted voucher to spend on whatever isn’t helping.
‘Can I invite you to one of the country’s most deprived schools to come discuss with the Head (who agrees with me)?’ He later listed the school in question as Oak Tree Primary, as he continued to tweet the footballer. Appearing on BBC Breakfast, Bradley was grilled by presenter Munchetty, who referenced a tweet from a governor at the school.
Unfortunately for you I am a governor at that very school. I have just spoken to the head and I can assure you that our view is very much that the kids need FSM. I ask you to correct this and not give false impressions of a school who fight tooth and nail for their kids.— Follow Your Own Compass. (@BraunandRed) October 23, 2020
She said: ‘A governor at that school has responded, saying: “Unfortunately for you I am a governor at that very school. I have just spoken to the head and I can assure you that our view is very much that the kids need free school meals vouchers.
I ask you to correct this and not give false impressions of a school who fights tooth and nail for their kids.”‘ Bradley responded: ‘Naga, I have no wish to draw any of my local schools into an argument, indeed-‘ Munchetty interjected: ‘But you did, didn’t you? By inviting Marcus Rashford to come to a school.’ ‘Inadvertently, and I would like Marcus to come to [the] school,’ the MP responded. ‘That invitation remains open. I have no reason to fall out with Marcus.
The point I’m simply making is that I think the state can add to what’s happening within our communities, that broad community support to help local people.’
Fans have applauded the presenter for her interview, with one writing: ‘Go Naga Munchetty. Skewering Ben Bradley. Beautiful. #BBCBreakfast. It’s government’s job to feed hungry children if their parents can’t. It’s a safety net.’ Another added: ‘Naga Munchetty calmly dismantling Ben Bradley’s revolting views is a wonderful sight. #BBCBreakfast.’ One more said: ‘Naga Munchetty ripping Ben Bradley a new one is my jam.’
Pressure is now mounting on Ben Bradley to apologise for a Twitter tirade in which the Conservative MP was accused of linking free school meals with “crack dens” and “brothels”.
Labour called for him to apologise for the tweet, with deputy leader Angela Rayner saying: “Notwithstanding the fact that the vouchers in summer could only be used to purchase food, this stigmatisation of working class families is disgraceful and disgusting.”
Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who voted in support of extending free school meal provision, called on Boris Johnson to meet Marcus Rashford to come up with a long-term strategy.
He told BBC Breakfast: “It may be that they don’t agree with everything that Marcus Rashford is proposing, but it would give us a chance to come up with a long-term plan to combat child food hunger once and for all.”