- Jacob Rees-Mogg says UNICEF feeding vulnerable UK children is a "political stunt of the highest order."
- The senior member of Boris Johnson's Conservative government said the intervention — which UNICEF said was a response to a "domestic emergency" — was "playing politics" and a "real scandal."
- The UN agency this week said it was taking action to feed children in south London as the coronavirus pandemic puts more strain on Britain's poorest households.
- The Labour Party's Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said: "The only people who should be ashamed of themselves are Boris Johnson and the rest of his government for letting our children go hungry."
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A senior member of Boris Johnson's Conservative government has accused UNICEF of "playing politics" and a "political student of the highest order" after the United Nations Agency said it was taking emergency action to feed children in the UK this Christmas.
UNICEF this week said that for the first time in its 70-year history it was intervening to respond to a "domestic emergency" in Britain, where the coronavirus pandemic has put greater strain on the country's poorest households.
The UN agency, which provides aid to children worldwide, announced that it would be giving a £25,000 grant to the School Food Matters charity to feed children in Southwark, south London over the festive period.
However, speaking in the UK Parliament on Thursday morning, House of Commons Speaker Jacob Rees-Mogg accused the agency of making "cheap political points" and said the intervention was a "real scandal."
He said: "I think it's a real scandal that UNICEF should be playing politics in this way when it is meant to be looking after people in the poorest and most deprived countries in the world where people are starving, where there are famines, and where there are civil wars.
"And they make cheap political points of this kind, giving I think £25,000 to one council, it is a political stunt of the highest order."
Rees-Mogg defended the Conservative government's record of reducing child poverty, pointing to the expansion of free school meals and free child care, telling MPs in the House of Commons: "UNICEF should be ashamed itself."
Responding to the Conservative MP's remarks, the opposition Labour Party's Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said: "The only people who should be ashamed of themselves are Boris Johnson and the rest of his government for letting our children go hungry.
"In one of the richest countries in the world, our children should not be forced to rely on a charity that usually works in war zones and in response to humanitarian disasters.
"The only scandal here is this rotten Tory government leaving 4.2 million children living in poverty, a number that will only rise due to the Coronavirus crisis."
Anna Kettley of UNICEF UK said the agency felt it was "critical to come together at this time."
She said: "It's the first time which we're recognizing that this is an unprecedented situation which requires everyone to roll their sleeves up, step in and support children and families that need it most at this time."
Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United and England footballer who this year campaigned for the government to do more address child poverty, quote tweeted news of UNICEF's intervention saying "this is why I need your help."
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