Shadow education secretary calls on Gavin Williamson to resign over food parcel row

15 January 2021, 09:50

It is the first time Ms Green has called directly for Mr Williamson to quit
It is the first time Ms Green has called directly for Mr Williamson to quit. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Shadow education secretary Kate Green has called on Gavin Williamson to resign following the latest row over food parcels provided to families in need of support during the pandemic.

The Government was forced to U-turn on a policy of providing goods instead of cash or vouchers when images of boxes containing just £4 or £5 worth of food instead of the promised £30 were shared online, sparking a public outcry.

When asked if she thought it was time for the Education Secretary to quit, Ms Green told Good Morning Britain: "Yes I am going to say that, because I think patience has completely run out with Gavin Williamson and I do think it is time for him to go.

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"Our children's future, our children's education, our children's well being, is too important to be left in the hands of someone who plainly isn't up to the job and I think it's time for him to go."

It is the first time Ms Green has called directly for Mr Williamson to quit.

Gavin Williamson "disgusted" by "unacceptable' food parcels

She was heavily critical of his handling of exams over the summer - which saw thousands of students' exam results downgraded based on predictions by an algorithm - but at the time urged him to "take responsibility" for the crisis rather than leave the Government.

The shadow education secretary also called on the Government to give parents struggling to feed their children extra cash rather than food boxes or vouchers.

Speaking on the flagship ITV programme she added: ""There is so much research going back many decades that if you give parents money to spend on their children - buying them food, buying them clothes, buying essentials, that's what they do.

"And in fact more than that, we know that when families haven't got enough money to feed their children properly, it's parents, particularly mums who go without."

She added: "Of course we need children to be properly fed with nourishing foods, but we need mums and dads to be properly fed with nourishing food so they can look after their families properly.

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"Everything we know is that if you give parents money to spend on their children, that's what they do, that's what they prioritise - as any parent would."

It comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel said action should be taken against the food provider which compiled "appalling" free school meal parcels for families.

She said action Chartwells should be "ashamed of themselves" after images showing the poor-quality hampers were widely shared on social media.

She told ITV's This Morning that the parcels were "appalling in every way".

"I do think the company that were involved with that appalling display of food parcels should be ashamed of themselves quite frankly.

"It was thoroughly unacceptable and it is right that the Government are investigating them. I personally think some action should be taken against that company."

A national voucher scheme for free school meals will relaunch on Monday, she said.

Ms Patel is the latest Government minister to condemn the parcels after Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that they were an "insult" to the families who had received them.

His comments came after Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford said he had spoken to the Prime Minister about issues with the parcels and he was told that "a full review of the supply chain" was underway.