Three Conservative MPs have sparked outrage with social media posts about the debate over free school meals.
Tory MPs who have taken to social media to defend voting against the motion have found themselves in the firing line.
Ben Bradley, who represents Mansfield, denied accusations of stigmatising working class families in his response to a tweet describing the free school meals programme “£20 cash direct to a crack den and a brothel”.
In a post which has since been removed, he wrote: “That’s what FSM vouchers in the summer effectively did…”
After Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner accused him of stigmatising working class families, Mr Bradley claimed his tweet had been taken “completely out of context”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I was merely making the point that there are kids who live in really chaotic situations, really difficult lives, where actually giving them an unrestricted voucher to spend on whatever isn’t helpful."
Meanwhile, Mr Bradley’s Conservative colleague Mark Jenkinson accused people of attempting to “score political points” as he claimed that in his constituency of Workington in a “tiny” minority of cases food parcels – not vouchers – are “sold or traded for drugs”.
A Conservative MP has said that free school meals are effectively a direct payment to brothels and drug dealers.
Notwithstanding the fact that the vouchers in summer could only be used to purchase food, this stigmatisation of working class families is disgraceful and disgusting. pic.twitter.com/0gvieYM4a9
— 🌈 Angela Rayner 🌈 (@AngelaRayner)
The comments also sparked questions and demands for evidence, with Labour’s Jess Phillips writing: “Seriously Mark, let’s have a chat about this when in Parliament I’d love to see your evidence, I’d also like to talk to you about life living with those with substance misuse and what does and doesn’t help solve it.”
Tory MP for North Devon Selaine Saxby also ignited anger after commenting on local businesses giving free food away to those in need.
A screenshot of a since-removed post in her name on Facebook said: “I am delighted our local businesses have bounced back so much after lockdown they are able to give away food for free, and very much hope they will not be seeking any further government support.”
The MP later claimed her comments were “out of context” and added: “I of course deeply regret any offence which may have been caused.”