Tory MP who attacked Marcus Rashford can ‘f*** off’, says Labour’s Rachel Reeves

Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the Tory MP who criticised England star Marcus Rashford over his campaigning work on food poverty can “f*** off”.

Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke apologised last year after suggesting the Manchester United player should have spent more time “perfecting his game” rather than “playing politics”.

The tweet came after Rashford – who has urged the government to expand free school meals – missed a penalty in the Euro 2020 final.

Ms Reeves was scathing about Ms Elphicke and Tory policy on schools during the latest episode of Matt Forde’s Political Party podcast.

“Natalie Elphicke, when Rashford missed a penalty, her tweet was ‘If he spent more time on football rather than trying to get free school meals for our kids maybe he’d be better’. F*** off!”

Rashford is among the leading campaigners to have backed calls to expand free school meal eligibility to all children ease the impact of the cost of living crisis.

The Independent’s Feed the Future campaign with the Food Foundation has called on the government to widen support to the 800,000 children not eligible because their family’s income, excluding benefits, is more than £7,400 a year after tax.

While senior Labour MPs have backed the campaign, party policy is focused on a promise provide free school breakfast clubs for all primary school pupils at a cost of £365m.

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Ms Reeves used to the podcast interview to defend Labour’s policy pledge to raise £1.7bn by imposing VAT on private school fees – despite Tory claims it amounts to an attack on aspiration.

“Aspiration is wanting kids from whatever background to do well,” she said. “My mum and dad ‘weren’t aspirational’ for me because they sent me to the local comp?”

“I’m not aspirational for my kids because I send them to the local state school? ‘I couldn’t give a s*** about their education, just send them to the local state school’?”

With Sir Keir Starmer’s party riding high in the polls, Ms Reeves also said Labour would face a “tougher” task than the one faced by Tony Blair’s New Labour government if they win the next general election.

“It looks likely we’re going to inherit both public services on their knees and an economy that is on its knees as well,” she said. “And I think that is a tougher inheritance than what Tony and Gordon had in 1997.”

Ms Reeves added: “I think the scale of our ambition is there. But does it mean we can put right all the wrongs the Tories have created in the last 12 and a half years straight away? No, sadly it doesn’t mean that.”