Marcus Rashford said he will continue to campaign to end child food poverty after a bid to extend free school meals for disadvantaged youngsters over the school holidays was defeated.
Labour introduced a motion in the House of Commons, calling on the support for the poorest children to be given until next Easter.
But tonight the bid was defeated in Parliament, with 261 votes in favour and 322 against.
Manchester United striker Rashford, who starred in the club’s win over Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night, took to Twitter to warn that the problem “has the potential to become the greatest pandemic the country has ever faced”.
His campaign previously forced the Government into a u-turn, and they extended the free school meals provision over the summer holidays.
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Rashford said: “These children matter. These children are the future of this country. They are not just another statistic. And for as long as they don’t have a voice, they will have mine. You have my word on that.”
Earlier today, Boris Johnson had refused to perform another u-turn.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, he said: “We support kids on low incomes in school and we will continue to do so.
“But the most important thing is to keep them in school and not tear off into another national lockdown taking them out of school.
“We will continue to use the benefits system and all the systems of income to support children throughout the holidays as well.”
On Twitter, the United star, 22, called on politicians to act for the sake of hungry children.
He said: “Put aside all the noise, the digs, the party politics and let’s focus on the reality.
“A significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter because of comments that have been made today.
“We must stop stigmatising, judging and pointing fingers. Our views are being clouded by political affiliation.
“This is not politics, this is humanity.”
Earlier this month, Rashford, from Wythenshawe, was given an MBE in the Queens Birthday Honour’s list in recognition of his efforts.
During a Commons debate earlier, Tory MP David Simmonds said: “What does it say about the Opposition’s priorities that all of their interests are simply swept aside in favour of currying favour with wealth and power and celebrity status, spending taxpayers’ money to curry favour with celebrity status, wealth and power.
“Now I have no doubt that Mr Rashford is an expert in his own experience, but we should not forget that the experiences he so movingly described took place under a Labour government then supposedly at the peak of its powers in tackling child poverty in this country.”
Reacting to the vote, shadow education secretary and MP for Stretford and Urmston Kate Green said: “Boris Johnson and the Conservatives have badly let down more than one million children and their families.
“No child should go hungry over the holidays, but the Government is blocking the action needed to prevent this.
“We pay tribute to Marcus Rashford and others for shining a spotlight on this incredibly important issue.
“This campaign is not over and the Government must reconsider.”