Former chancellor George Osborne has said that Marcus Rashford has ensured it is “game over” for the Tories over free school meals, and that a U-Turn is now “inevitable”.
The ex-Tory MP said that the Manchester United forward has made ministers look like a “school yard football team, all running in a panic after the ball” with his food poverty campaign.
Osborne said Rashford had already “nutmegged the British state once” with his campaigning over the summer despite insisting he had not been aware of the row, and having rejected his request just 24 hours before.
Now, writing for the Evening Standard, Osborne has said a change in thinking will soon follow.
“If [food vouchers] were justified at Easter, and then again in the summer (thanks to Rashford), how can they not be justified at Christmas? You can hardly argue the Covid crisis has gone away.
“Nor when you spend £500,000,000 on helping people eat out at restaurants can you argue there’s no money left. With Tory MPs getting nervy, another government u-turn is inevitable”.
He continued: “This Downing Street team came into office saying they were much smarter than their predecessors, and wouldn’t make the mistake of chasing headlines. That’s a bold claim.
“But their ministers have been made to look like a school yard football team, all running in a panic after the ball — until a professional came onto the pitch and put it into the back of their net.
“Marcus Rashford has got this right. The government needs to realise that it’s game over.”
The environment minister George Eustice earlier claimed that free school meals were always intended to be a “support scheme for term time”.
After he was accused of leaving school children hungry during the holidays, the minister said he did not “understand” the argument.