Matt Hancock was left squirming during an excruciating appearance on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday, when Piers Morgan pressed him on whether he regretted voting against extending free school meals.
The health secretary repeatedly dodged questions from the presenter as he was interviewed on the ITV breakfast show.
Amid the urgent investigation into the state of some meagre food parcels struggling families have been receiving, Piers used the interview to quiz Hancock on why, earlier in the pandemic, he had voted against extending the free school meals policy while schools were closed.
“Do you regret voting against it?” Piers asked.
“Well I’m really glad we were able to put it into place,” Hancock answered.
“If you’re that glad about being able to put it into place again, why did you as health secretary vote against this?” Piers said.
“Because,” Hancock continued, “the reason I’m glad now is because we’ve been able to sort that out and put it in place.”
“No thanks to you,” Piers’ co-host Susanna Reid said.
Referring to Marcus Rashford’s campaign urging the government to provide free meals for the poorest children during school holidays, Piers continued: “Let’s be honest, you got shamed into it by a young football player with a conscience, who managed to prick the conscience of you and the government.
“Given how glad you are now that it’s happening, do you regret voting against it?”
Still refusing to directly answer the question, Hancock said: “Well, of course I’m pleased we’re making sure that...”
Interrupting, Piers said: “That wasn’t the question... It’s a very important question because you wouldn’t have done it without Marcus Rashford campaigning.”
As the pair continued to go round in circles, an exasperated Piers said: “Health secretary, you only have to say yes or no. You either regret it or you don’t.”
“I’m really glad the situation has been resolved,” Hancock repeated. “We’ve sorted it out and I’m going to use my own words to describe my own feelings on this one.”
“So you won’t answer the question?” Piers asked.
“I’m answering the question and I’m really glad we’ve sorted it,” Hancock said.
The health secretary’s appearance on GMB came after Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson commented after parents posted images of parcels expected to last a child 10 days. One picture was estimated to contain just over £5 worth of food.
The packages are expected to contain £30 worth of food.
Downing Street said the Department for Education is investigating, with children’s minister Vicky Ford speaking to the company responsible and “making clear that boxes like this shouldn’t be given to families”.
The prime minister’s spokesperson said: “We are aware of those images circulating on social media and it is clear that the contents of those food parcels are completely unacceptable.
“The Department for Education is looking into this urgently and the minister for children, Vicky Ford, is speaking to the company responsible and they will be making it clear that boxes like this should not be given to families.”
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.