Eastbourne MP quits post after voting against government in free schools meals plan

Conservative MP for Eastbourne Caroline Ansell voted against the government last night (Wednesday) in favour of extending schools meals – and has resigned from her ministerial post.

Mrs Ansell this morning stepped down from her role as a parliamentary private secretary with Defra due to her decision not to support the government.

She was one of a handful of Conservative MPs who voted in favour of Labour’s motion on extending free school meal vouchers until after Easter 2021 for families in receipt of Universal Credit or an equivalent benefit.

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The motion on providing 1.4m disadvantaged children in England with £15-a-week food vouchers during holidays until next year was voted down.

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She said, “In these unprecedented times I am very concerned to be doing all we can to help lower income families and their children who are really struggling due to the impact of the virus.

“Therefore, last night, I voted for Labour’s motion on extending free school meal vouchers until after Easter 2021.

“I do not consider this extension could be in any way a long-term solution to this need, which is complex. There are better ways to help children, including linking meals to activities so they can also benefit from extra-curricular learning and experience.

“However, as we are still very much living in the shadow of the pandemic, vouchers are a lever - not perfect, not sustainable - but one which I thought could be used to reach families in Eastbourne and across the country in the immediate time ahead. I could not in all conscience ignore that belief.

“Due to my decision not to support the government in this debate, I have resigned as a parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.”