16 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt spending £120m on Festival for Brexit instead of free school meals over the summer
  • PM’s decision to scrap DFID shows Govt turning its back on most in need
  • Govt must act to address disproportionate impact of pandemic on BAME communities
  • Govt must go beyond u-turn on free school meals to give every child best start
  • PM must think again on DFID in face of COVID-19 global health emergency

Govt spending £120m on Festival for Brexit instead of free school meals over the summer

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of being “callous and heartless” for spending £120m on a Festival For Brexit, when the same amount of money could be spent on extending free school meals over the summer.

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson, Layla Moran, made the intervention ahead of an opposition debate today on calls to extend free school meals during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Government recently confirmed that the Festival for Brexit will be going ahead in 2022, with £120 million of taxpayers’ money earmarked for the event. This is the exact same amount it would cost to extend free school meals to all eligible pupils over the six-week summer holiday.

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Leaving children hungry while ploughing millions into Brexit propaganda is callous and heartless. This appalling waste of money shows where the government’s priorities lie.

It’s not rocket science. If the government can spend £120 million on a Brexit ‘festival’, they could easily spend the same on ensuring the most disadvantaged children have enough to eat over the summer holidays.

It is about time that the Education Secretary went to the training ground with Marcus Rashford to take some lessons on how best to support the most vulnerable pupils.

PM’s decision to scrap DFID shows Govt turning its back on most in need

Responding to reports that the Prime Minister will announce later today that the Foreign Office and Department for International Development are set to be merged, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for International Development Wendy Chamberlain said:

Not content with depriving disadvantaged kids of their free school meals, the Prime Minister is now choosing to abolish the department whose job is to support the most vulnerable people around the world.

UK aid prevents suffering. The Liberal Democrats have always made absolutely clear our unequivocal support for Britain’s role as a world leader in providing aid to those most in need. By working internationally we can achieve so much more than we can alone.

This decision shows the extent of the Prime Minister’s determination to see the UK turn its back on the world.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey added:

Boris Johnson has wanted to use the 0.7% for international aid for his own political projects ever since entering government. This news comes as the most vulnerable brace themselves for the Coronavirus, which has already torn through many countries.

In the last 24 hours this Government has refused to offer the poorest children in the UK free school meals. They have now turned to cutting funding away from some of the worlds poorest. Boris Johnson is playing culture war games and some of the most vulnerable people here at home and abroad are paying the price.

Govt must act to address disproportionate impact of pandemic on BAME communities

Responding to Public Health England’s report on the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups, which highlighted the adverse effects of the Government’s Hostile Environment policy and ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ rule, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented threat, leaving the most vulnerable in society at risk. We must ensure that BAME communities are not left behind by the Government’s response to this crisis.

The Government must act urgently to address the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on BAME communities, and to solve the deep-seated inequalities and injustices they face.

It is appalling that the Conservatives’ discriminatory Hostile Environment policies and their refusal to suspend the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ rule are preventing migrants and other BAME people from accessing the healthcare they need during this pandemic.

If the Government is serious about tackling racial injustice, the Home Secretary must end the Hostile Environment and give migrants access to Universal Credit during this crisis.

Govt must go beyond u-turn on free school meals to give every child best start

Responding to the Prime Minister’s u-turn on free school meals, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Too many vulnerable children face falling through the cracks. I am grateful to Marcus Rashford and all those campaigners who have helped force the Prime Minister to rediscover his conscience, but it should never have been needed.

The Government must now work cross-party and with parents, teachers and local governments to do more. We must ensure no child is left behind.

That starts with Liberal Democrat proposals to combine the free school meals voucher scheme with an emergency uplift in child benefit and a ‘catch-up premium’ to ensure every child has the best start in life.

PM must think again on DFID in face of COVID-19 global health emergency

Responding to today’s COVID-19 update from the Prime Minister, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

News that a drug has been identified that can help treat COVID-19 will be welcomed by all. But – to get a grip on this global pandemic – finding a vaccine remains vital.

Given the ongoing public health emergency, the Prime Minister must show global leadership, not least by working with our international partners to develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, he has chosen to set out plans to abolish the Department of International Development, which for years has funded vital work in public health, including the work of GAVI – the global Vaccine Alliance.

It was the Liberal Democrats who enshrined the 0.7% aid commitment into UK law. This is a commitment the UK should be proud to uphold. Yet Boris Johnson’s decision threatens to undermine that commitment, and with it our global influence. It is no surprise three former Prime Ministers have condemned this move. The Prime Minister should think again.

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4 Comments

  • Why are we not doing more to highlight our support for Rashford.This was the main achievement of the coalition but once again we have nothing to say on the news.

  • where are the cries of outrage when it was revealed that the NHS was paying five quid a dose for the drug and that it was available for pennies in third world countries?

  • Johnson was again economical with the truth when he implied that he had only found out about the need for holiday school meals (Rashford) earlier in the day..
    Starmer raised the question in PMQs on 10th June and various ministers had been defending the governments refusal to act,,,In fact, yestrday morning, Shapps was explaining to the media why the government was against the policy…

    As an aside,,,How are the questioners/questions, for the 5pm whitewash, selected? I have rarely heard such weak ‘grilling’ of ministers/experts; the avoidance of any stright answers, in this time of crisis, is disgraceful..

  • @Frank West – Part of the deal is we pay more so that those less well off nations can get medicines significantly cheaper. The need and difficult part is to ensure the balance is right so that the pharmaceutical companies don’t fleece their customers, yet still make enough to maintain their R&D efforts.

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