Scottish Tories labelled 'total hypocrites' on free school meals as Douglas Ross 'fails abysmally' at leadership test

Douglas Ross has been accused of having “failed abysmally” at a “key test of leadership” over free school meals after five Scottish Conservative MPs voted against extending the provision.

Douglas Ross has been accused of hypocrisy over free school meals.

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives abstained on the vote which had been forced by Labour in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

It followed the UK government rejected calls, led by Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford, for free school meal provision to be extended into school holidays over the winter.

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The Scottish government announced a £10m scheme earlier this week to extend free school meal provision into the Christmas, February and Easter holidays.

In September, Mr Ross announced his intentions to introduce free school meals for all primary school children at breakfast and lunch if the party is elected in May.

He said at the time: “I have seen myself the difference that providing free meals can make.

“I just want to make sure no-one falls through the cracks and by giving this to all primary school pupils we can make sure the offer is there for everyone.”

SNP shadow work and pensions secretary Neil Gray was damning in response to the vote, stating that Mr Ross had failed as a leader and proved his party to be “total hypocrites”.

He said: "This was a key test of leadership for Douglas Ross and he has failed abysmally.

"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.

"The fact is you cannot trust a word the Scottish Tories say. They have shown time and again that they are incapable of standing up for Scotland, and will always do Downing Street's bidding regardless of the damage it causes - just like they have on Brexit and devastating Tory austerity cuts."

A Scottish Conservatives spokesman said: “The motion last night related to provision in England, which is the responsibility of the UK Government.

“If parties in the Scottish Parliament are all agreed on Scottish Conservative proposals to extend free school meals to all primary school children in Scotland, we urge the SNP to bring forward a vote and we look forward to their support.”

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