A bid to secure free schools meals for hungry children over the school holidays has been rejected by Parliament.

Maldon MP, John Whittingdale voted against the bid.

England and Manchester United player, Marcus Rashford urged politicians to unite to protect the most vulnerable children and vowed to continue campaigning, writing on Twitter: “For as long as they don’t have a voice, they will have mine.”

But despite his please, the bid, which was tabled by Labour and called for the scheme to be extended over school holidays until Easter 2021, was defeated by 261 votes to 322 – majority 61.

Only one Essex MP voted for the motion.

Downing Street ruled out performing a late U-turn ahead of the vote, with Boris Johnson also telling Prime Minister’s Questions: “We support kids on low incomes in school and we will continue to do so.

“But the most important thing is to keep them in school and not tear off into another national lockdown taking them out of school.

“We will continue to use the benefits system and all the systems of income to support children throughout the holidays as well.”

How did Essex's MPs vote?


Robert Halfon (Harlow)


James Cleverly (Braintree)

Alex Burghart (Brentwood and Ongar)

Rebecca Harris (Castle Point)

Vicky Ford (Chelmsford)

Giles Watling (Clacton)

Will Quince (Colchester)

John Whittingdale (Maldon)

Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford)

Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden)

Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)

David Amess (Southend West)

Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock)

Did not vote

John Baron (Basildon and Billericay)

Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)

Sir Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex)

James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East)

Priti Patel (Witham)