BARROW MP Simon Fell sided with the Conservatives against Marcus Rashford’s bid to support vulnerable children.

MPs voted down the footballer's proposal to extend free school meals across the half-terms and the Christmas holidays.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron backed the plan to give the food to eligible children after Number 10 said the scheme would not be prolonged through the October half-term.

The motion was defeated by 322 votes to 261.

Rashford said on Twitter in response: "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."

The footballer has been campaigning to have the scheme extended after his efforts earlier in the coronavirus crisis saw the government U-turn to provide free school meals to eligible children during the summer holidays.

The vote comes after more than 200 people in South Lakeland’s parliamentary constituencies signed a petition to tackle food poverty spearheaded by Rashford.

The petition called for free school meals to be extended to every child from a household on Universal Credit or an equivalent benefit. A government-commissioned report published earlier this year said expanding the scheme in this way could see it reach an additional 1.5 million seven to 16-year-olds across England.

The petition also called for free meals to be provided throughout holidays as well as during term time. Finally, it says ‘healthy start’ vouchers – given to eligible women who are pregnant or those with young children to buy basic foods – should be raised from £3.10 to £4.25 per week and made available to all those on UC or a similar benefit.