Piers Morgan clashes with UK Health Secretary in fiery interview over free school meals

UK broadcaster Piers Morgan has clashed with Britain Health Secretary Matt Hancock over why he voted against providing free meals to vulnerable children during the country's winter holidays. 

With England in lockdown to try to control a surge in coronavirus cases, the Government has asked schools to provide free lunches for eligible children stuck at home.

It was driven by Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford, who led a publicity campaign last year to pressure the Government into extending the provision of meals to include school holiday times.

However, Hancock was among 322 Conservative MPs who voted against the scheme in Parliament in October, more than the 261 politicians who voted for it. The Government subsequently u-Turned as a result of Rashford's campaigning and public pressure and is now supporting the campaign.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Hancock said he was "really glad" the Government could offer the scheme - contradicting his vote.

Morgan hit back, asking why he voted against it if he was "that glad".

"If you're that glad about being able to put it into place, again, why did you, as Health Secretary, vote against this?"

He told Hancock he'd been "shamed by a young football player with a conscience" into supporting the scheme.

"Do you regret, now, given how glad you are that it's now happening, do you regret voting against it?"

Hancock replied: "I'm really glad that the situation has been resolved.

"We've sorted it out and I'm going to use my own words to describe my own feelings on this."

"Let's just hope that we don't have to, as we have this week, rely on Marcus Rashford once again," Morgan shot back.

The debate has been widely shared online with Morgan being praised by high-profile people in the UK and abroad.

"Loving your work and holding the politicians to account mate! Go get 'em," former Australian cricketer Shane Warne said.

"Oh how he squirmed," wrote Opposition Labour MP Jon Trickett.

"This is disgusting," One Direction star Louis Tomlinson said of Hancock. "What an evasive coward! Hold your hands up and take responsibility."

The interview with Hancock came after images shared online of some of the food parcels were criticised by politicians, celebrities and the public, who questioned whether they contained enough food and nutrition for the number of meals they were supposed to cover. The outcry began when one Twitter user posted a parcel she said was expected to last 10 days of lunches containing: a loaf of bread, two potatoes, two carrots, three apples, a tomato, some dried pasta, bananas, cheese, beans and other small snacks.

"The photos being shared on social media today are completely unacceptable and do not reflect the high standard of free school meals we expect to be sent to children," Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said on Tuesday.

Children are eligible for the programme if they are in their first three years of schooling - roughly aged 4 to 7 - or if their parents receive certain state benefits. More than 1.4 million children qualify.

Other users, including Rashford, posted images they said showed similar food packages received from schools.

"Something is going wrong and we need to fix it, quickly!" Rashford said.

The Premier League football star later said he'd spoken with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ensure the issue was resolved.

"I totally agree with you @MarcusRashford, these food parcels do not meet the standards we set out and we have made it clear to the company involved that this is disgraceful," Johnson said on Twitter.

Reuters / Newshub.