BRACKNELL MP James Sunderland has slammed Labour’s ‘disingenuous opportunism’ over the free school meals row.

Conservative MPs have faced a backlash online and in the media after almost all of them, including Mr Sunderland, voted against Labour’s proposal to extend free school meals to children over the holidays until Easter 2021.

READ MORE: How did Berkshire's MPs vote on the free school meals proposal?

The proposal was voted on earlier this week after Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford spearheaded a campaign to guarantee the meals for youngsters during the non-term time, warning MPs not to “turn a blind eye” to vulnerable families.

Labour councillor Mary Temperton, of Bracknell Forest Council, hit out at Mr Sunderland after he voted against the motion.

READ MORE: Labour councillor slams Tories for 'no' free school meals vote

She said: “During school time, their children are fed with free school meals, and often support from teachers.

“During holiday times, this support ceases, but no extra money comes into the family. Maybe our MP thinks being hungry is character building.

“We can afford to do this. It is just not a Conservative priority. It is not part of their ideology.”

The News asked the Bracknell MP to explain why he voted the way he did and to respond to Cllr Temperton’s comments.

READ MORE: Pubs and cafes step in to offer free meals after free dinners proposal falls

He said: “Never let a good story get in the way of the facts! This is yet more disingenuous opportunism from the opposition I’m afraid and we really do need to stop the unhelpful point-scoring.

“The Government did not vote to end free school meals – that is a lie.

“It voted in response to a political stunt forced by Labour to cease the holiday voucher scheme.

“This was only ever brought in as a temporary measure to support children who could not get to school due to Covid-19.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the Conservative government has provided an additional £9bn into our welfare system, £63m specifically to support local families in need and continues to provide free school meals for over 1.4 million of the most vulnerable children.

“This support package is unprecedented anywhere in the world and continues to support all our kids in Bracknell.”

A number of local eateries have revealed they are planning to offer free school meals to children throughout half term following the fall of Labour's proposal.

The Lord Raglan in Wokingham will take part in the initiative, as will The Avenue Deli in Reading.

Several local authorities across the country are also offering free dinners over the upcoming holidays.

The News has asked Bracknell Forest Council if it will be doing the same.