Search icon


26th May 2021

Johnson tried to ‘pick school meal fight’ with Rashford despite staff advising against it

Charlie Herbert

It’s one of several stark revelations from Cummings as he faces questions around his time working in Downing Street.

Dominic Cummings has revealed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was advised not to go against Marcus Rashford’s call for free school meals, but chose to “pick a fight” with the footballer over the issue and surrendered twice.

Cummings made the revelation as he appeared before the Science and Technology/Health Committee to answer questions about his time working in Number 10 and the decisions made by the government to prepare for and deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Along with the revelation around widespread opposition amongst staff to Johnson’s school meal stance, Cummings also said he was “extremely sorry” for the controversy surrounding his breach of lockdown regulations last year, apologised to the families of those that had died from Covid, and said that he believed Health Secretary Matt Hancock  should have been fired for “at least 15 to 20 things.”

The Prime Minister’s former aide told MPs: “The director of communications said to the Prime Minister twice, ‘Do not pick a fight with Rashford’.

“The Prime Minister decided to pick a fight and then surrendered twice. After that everyone says, ‘Oh your communications is stupid’. No what’s stupid is picking a fight with Rashford over school meals and what should have happened is just getting the school meals policy right.

“So it’s easy to blame communications for bad policy and bad decision-making,” he added.

Footballer Marcus Rashford led a campaign during the first lockdown for the free school meal vouchers scheme to be extended until the end of the summer, after the government announced that scheme would not be carried through the summer.

Eventually, Rashford forced the government into a U-turn on the policy. If that wasn’t enough, Rashford then forced the government into a second reverse of policy just a few months later on the same issue.

It’s not surprising to hear that many around the PM could see how much of an unpopular move this would be from Johnson and the government if they were to resist Rashford’s calls. That is of course apart from the man himself.