Marcus Rashford has received global praise for his campaign.
Marcus Rashford has received global praise for his campaign.

English footballer's campaign forces a Boris U-turn

Football ace Marcus Rashford has forced Boris Johnson to U-turn and provide $27-a-week, free school-meal vouchers for poor kids during the English summer holidays.

After mounting pressure from Tory MPs and celebrities, the UK Government revealed it would fund the scheme after all, despite saying it would not carry on over the summer.

Parents who are eligible will be able to claim the extra help with meals for their kids.

A one-off, six-week voucher will be dished out for families to use in supermarkets.

"I don't even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020," Rashford tweeted.

The PM's spokesman said the government would run a COVID food fund throughout the summer.

"The PM welcomed Marcus Rashford's contribution to the debate around poverty and I said he would be responding as soon as possible," he said.

"Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the PM fully understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer.

"To to reflect this, we will be providing a COVID summer food fund.

"This will provide food vouchers covering the six-week holiday period.

"This was a specific measure to reflect the unique circumstances of the pandemic.

"The scheme will not continue beyond the summer and those eligible will be those who already qualify for free school meals."

Boris told the Cabinet the news - which will cost $219 million in extra funding.

Ministers have said they will continue with plans to put an additional $115 million of money into local authorities to help those who can't afford basic essentials.

The U-turn came after several Tory MPs teamed up with Labour to demand change.

The Government doES not usually fund the scheme during the holidays - but had done so over the Easter and half-term break during the coronavirus pandemic.

The scheme will help 1.3 million kids to get meals over the holidays.

Robert Halfon MP said after the decision on Tuesday: "Good news. Thank you to @BorisJohnson @GavinWilliamson @vickyford @educationgovuk for listening and to @MarcusRashford for highlighting."

Labour leader Keir Starmer said after the news: "This is another welcome U-turn from Boris Johnson. The thought of 1.3 million children going hungry this summer was unimaginable. Well done to @MarcusRashford and many others who spoke out so powerfully about this issue.

It came after Tory Cabinet minister Therese Coffey was slammed for her "shameful" response to Rashford online.

And Piers Morgan told the Health Secretary to "do your bit" and help poor kids who need it.

"Today I focus on a trophy that stands for something much bigger than football," Rashford said, writing in The Times.

"A U-turn on the decision to stop the free food voucher scheme continuing over the summer holidays could help us reach the next round but we still have a very long way to go as a country to eventually lift the trophy.

"In this case, the trophy is combating child poverty.

"I don't claim to have the education of an MP in parliament, but I do have a social education.

"I am clued up on the difference a U-turn decision would make on the 1.3 million vulnerable children across the UK who are registered for free school meals because 10 years ago I was one of them."

The Manchester United star wrote an impassioned letter to  Johnson urging them to make a change.

However, on Tuesday morning (local time) Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey risked inflating the row with a spat on Twitter.

"1. When you wake up this morning and run your shower, take a second to think about parents who have had their water turned off during lockdown #maketheuturn," Rashford tweeted.

But Ms Coffey replied to another journalist's tweet saying: "Water cannot be disconnected though."

Rashford in turn wrote back: "I'm concerned this is the only tweet of mine you acknowledged. Please, put rivalries aside for a second, and make a difference #maketheuturn."

Following their earlier exchange, Ms Coffey tweeted a further message to Mr Rashford, adding: "Hi @MarcusRashford, I welcome your passion for supporting children and the most vulnerable in society - a passion we share. We are working to the same aim. I & this Govt will continue to actively help and support families and businesses through this emergency and beyond.

She added: "We supported people renting and ensure they cannot be evicted & intervened with electricity suppliers on bills. We have kept schools open for vulnerable children and those of key workers. We will continue to support the economy and help all of us get through this."

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.

Originally published as World reacts to star's 'selfless' campaign

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