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Boris Johnson : More than 2,000 paediatricians have signed a letter telling the prime minister that childhood hunger should “transcend politics”.

The Labour Party has also threatened to bring the issue back to the House of Commons if Mr Johnson does not relent.

Members of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: “Few would disagree that one of our most basic human responsibilities is to ensure children have enough to eat.

“We call on the UK government to match the pledges of the Welsh and Scottish governments and the Northern Ireland Executive, to continue to provide children from low-income backgrounds with free meals over the coming weeks and to then extend this at least until the Easter school holiday, as they have done in Wales and Scotland.”

The organisation also praised Marcus Rashford, 22, for his “powerful” work on the issue.

The Manchester United footballer, who was given free school meals when he was a child, has been campaigning on behalf of the 1.3 million children who are eligible for the scheme ,Boris Johnson .

His petition, which calls for various measures to end child food poverty, is closing in on 800,000 signatures.

In June, he forced a government U-turn, which resulted in the meals being extended to cover the summer holidays.

But a motion calling for a further extension was rejected by Tory MPs last Wednesday.

Councils from both sides of the political spectrum joined businesses such as cafes and restaurants, many of them struggling financially due to the pandemic, in stepping up with offers of free meals for children in need.

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