Douglas Ross insists free school meals vote inspired by Marcus Rashford was ‘issue for England only’

Douglas Ross has moved to distance himself from the Marcus Rashford free school meals by insisting it was an “issue for England only”.

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross claimed the free school meals vote was an England only matter

The Scottish Conservative leader claimed he abstained on Wednesday night’s vote on children’s school meals because he was in Scotland and could not get a proxy vote.

Put forward by the Labour party in Westminster, it was a vote that was not supported by a single Scottish Tory MP.

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He explained: “I wasn’t in Westminster, I was in Scotland.

“The only way you can get a proxy vote in Westminster is for a Covid-related reason.

“I had planned to come back long before the opposition debate subject had been decided, therefore I wasn’t in Westminster and was not able to vote.”

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Scottish Tories labelled 'total hypocrites' on free school meals as Douglas Ross...

A backer of free school meals in Scotland, Mr Ross insisted he had not changed his mind on the policy north of the Border.

He explained: “The proposals put forward would only affect England.

“The proposals I have put forward would see all primary school pupils have the chance to take up free school lunch and a breakfast at the start of the day too.

“I really hope political parties across Scotland will unite behind that because there is compelling evidence around the world this is the right thing to do and I would like to see that introduced in Scotland.

“If the parties agree with me and agree with what is put forward, then I hope we can have a vote on that in the Scottish Parliament and we can deliver that for young people.”

He added he was “not against rebelling against the government”, and had done so last week.

SNP work and pensions spokesperson Neil Gray MP accused him of failing leadership.

He said: “The Scottish Tories are total hypocrites for voting against free school meals despite previously claiming to support them.

“They are trying to hoodwink voters with false promises by saying one thing, then doing the complete opposite when instructed by Boris Johnson.”

It comes on a day Downing Street repeatedly refused to praise businesses providing free meals for hungry children this half term after being inspired by Manchester United star Rashford’s campaign.

Asked if Boris Johnson applauded such efforts, his deputy spokesman said: "You’ve had my answer on this. We've been clear on our position."

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