Douglas Ross branded ‘rank hypocrite’ after claiming to support Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign
Douglas Ross has been branded a “rank hypocrite” after he claimed to support Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign despite not voting for it.
The Scottish Conservative leader described the Manchester United striker’s campaign as “nothing short of extraordinary” this week, but did not back a Labour motion on the policy as it was an “England only” matter.
His five Scottish Tory MP colleagues in Westminster voted against the motion to support Rashford’s campaign, but Mr Ross insisted he did not take part in last Wednesday’s vote because he was in Scotland and could not get a proxy.
The Moray MP has now been blasted by the SNP, which insisted his “excuses simply won't wash”.
SNP deputy leader at Westminster, Kirsten Oswald, has slammed the Scottish Tory leader, accusing him of trying to have his cake and eat it.
She said: “No matter how hard they try, the Scottish Tories won’t be able to squirm their way out of this one – and Douglas Ross’s double-speak on this issue is an utter disgrace.
“In Scotland, the number of primary pupils receiving free school meals has doubled in the last decade thanks to the work of the SNP government, and we've committed £10 million to maintain free school meals through the winter breaks with future funding confirmed to extend support over Easter.
"But Douglas Ross's bosses at Westminster simply don't care.
"As scandalous as the stance is, at least Boris Johnson has the courage to live up to the Tories’ nasty party tag and admit he does not support Marcus Rashford's campaign.
"Shame on Douglas Ross for claiming to support this campaign, while standing on the sidelines when thousands of children in England will go hungry this Christmas break under the watch of his party.
“He is a rank hypocrite.”
In Scotland, the SNP government has provided an extra £10 million to ensure the continued provision of free school meals over the coming school holidays.
It comes as Mr Ross lavished praise on the England striker and vowed to “keep cheering him on”.
He said: “I’ve seen 22-year-olds score for Manchester United and England before – that’s impressive, but it’s not extraordinary.
“Rashford’s political campaigns have been nothing short of extraordinary.
“They’re classy, professional and he consistently keeps out of all the usual political mud-slinging that a campaign like this sometimes engages in.”
The row has now seen Mr Ross tell his fellow Scottish Tory MPs to stop voting on “English only” legislation in the House of Commons.
Now the six Scottish Tory MPs in Westminster will no longer cast a vote if the policy “relates to England only”, and any issues which have potential financial consequentials for Scotland will now be “analysed at the time”.
A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “The UK government must take it into serious consideration and listen to the wide range of voices in support of this policy ahead of any future vote. In future, our MPs will not take part in votes that relate to England only.”
The SNP broke its own long-standing tradition of abstaining on votes not affecting constituents north of the Border, five years ago when it returned 56 MPs to the Commons.
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