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Minister says he ‘doesn’t understand’ accusation he’s starving kids in holidays

Environment minister George Eustice - Credit: Sky News

A minister has pleaded ignorance after being accused of leaving children going hungry during the school holidays.

Environment minister George Eustice said he did not understand the line of questioning after Sky News presenter Kay Burley put to him that it sounded “ridiculous” that the government could only supply free school meals to pupils during term time.

“There are kids in the UK going hungry because it’s not term time. You said you’ll feed them in term time, but there’ll have to go hungry when it’s not term time. Can you appreciate, minister, how ridiculous that sounds?”

But Eustice said he did “not appreciate it” because he said he did not understand the line of questioning.

“I don’t appreciate it because I don’t understand the point you’re making, because it’s free school meals.”

Taken back by his response, Burley told him: “Kids are going hungry when they’re not at school, I can’t make it any simpler than that, minister”.

But the Conservative minister did not seem fazed by the point the presenter was made.

He continued: “And the way we’re addressing is principally through a significant increase in universal credit by £20 per week, so people have money to buy the food for their families, that is the right way to address this.

“And through other inventions such as hardship payments for local authorities, where we’ve given £360 million, and other money to other food charities for the good work that they do right across the countries.”

He insisted free school meals “was always a support scheme that was for term time”.

Burley, however, pointed out that “we’ve never been in a pandemic before and that is making the situation more challenging”.

Commenting on a clip of the interview, Axeleyovich Foleyski tweeted: “He was right, he doesn’t understand.”

Annette Gault wrote: “He has that dead-pan, blank face with no feeling at all and his voice is monotone with no feeling at all.”

Lucas Jones added: “Another private school educated minister wheeled out to defend the indefensible and not understanding the plight of millions of families…”

Radio presenter Nick Abbott said: “George Useless absolutely knocking it for six today”.

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