Newington head urges South Thanet MP to reconsider his actions over free school meals

Newington head teacher Cliff Stokes

The head teacher of a Ramsgate school has written to South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay accusing him of “missing a trick” over the provision of free school meals in the holidays.

In his letter, Cliff Stokes, who runs Newington Community Primary School, asks the MP to meet with those who have benefited from the meal scheme and urges him to reconsider his actions.

Mr Mackinlay was among 321 Conservatives who voted against the extension of free school meals for disadvantaged pupils during the holidays. North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale did not vote.

The failure of the motion, which was prompted by footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign, has caused fury in Thanet and across the country.

Craig Mackinlay

In his letter to Mr Mackinlay, Mr Stokes wrote: “No child in the 21st Century should go hungry.

“I read with interest your reasoning for voting against providing a free school meal (FSM) during holidays for every child entitled to them, until the pandemic is under control.

“Unfortunately, I feel that your answer was more about parliamentary protocol and not about what children actually need, and should be entitled to, a hot meal every day.

“Whilst I understand your reasoning, that the Government is putting money into measures that will support parents in coping with the current situation, a quick, easy and relatively cheap way of supporting children, would have been through a continuation of the FSM scheme.

“Come and speak to those who benefited from the scheme at Newington and see whether it would have made a difference to children’s lives.

Newington Community Primary School

“I really feel that you, alongside your Conservative MP colleagues, have missed a trick, have misunderstood the real needs of the large numbers of families in our community, and will hopefully reconsider your actions.”

Mr Stokes is asking anyone who agrees with the position of the school and the extension of free school meals through the holidays to email Mr Mackinlay at

The MP defended his decision to vote against the extension, saying it was ‘untrue’ to say he has voted against free school meals and branded the motion as ‘political gameplaying.’

He said an amended motion, which he supported, outlined the help government is already giving to families in need.

Since the controversial vote, a number of businesses and organisations have stepped up to help families who may be struggling, by offering free meals.

To see the list click here.