Two north-east Conservative MPs who voted against plans to extend free school meals to poor families over the winter today declined to comment when asked to explain their reasons.
The Evening Express contacted the Scottish Conservatives offering Andrew Bowie and David Duguid the opportunity to tell their constituents why they voted the way they did, however, a spokesman declined to provide a comment.
Labour’s motion, which called for the scheme to be extended over school holidays until Easter 2021, was defeated by 261 votes to 322 – a majority of 61.
Mr Bowie, who represents West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, and Mr Duguid, MP for Banff and Buchan, voted against the motion while Douglas Ross, MP for Moray and the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, abstained.
Kirsty Blackman, the SNP’s MP for Aberdeen North, blasted the party.
She said: “This was a key test of leadership for Douglas Ross and he failed abysmally.
“For the Scottish Tories to vote against this issue – and in the case of Mr Ross abstain on it – smacks of hypocrisy given they previously claimed to support them. This is yet another episode of the Scottish Tories saying one thing then doing the complete opposite when instructed by Boris Johnson.
“People in Scotland will not be fooled. By voting to deprive children of food, Scottish Tory MPs have also voted to deprive Scotland of crucial Barnett funding – leaving the SNP government to fund Scotland’s progressive free school meals policy from existing budgets.
“The Scottish Tories are the same old nasty party they have always been and have shown time and again they are incapable of standing up for Scotland. This month alone, they have voted to impose an extreme Brexit and a power grab on Scotland, and voted against free school meals, extending furlough support for jobs, and helping refugee children.
“The SNP will continue to deliver progressive policies in Scotland despite Westminster cuts but the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests and values is to become an independent country.”
A Scottish Conservatives spokesman said: “The motion last night related to provision in England, which is the responsibility of the UK Government.
“If parties in the Scottish Parliament are all agreed on Scottish Conservative proposals to extend free school meals to all primary school children in Scotland, we urge the SNP to bring forward a vote and we look forward to their support.”
The Scottish government announced a £10m scheme earlier this week to extend free school meal provision into the Christmas, February and Easter holidays.
Five Conservative MPs rebelled to support the motion, including Education Select Committee chairman Robert Halfon, but it was not enough.
The division list showed the other four were Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne), Jason McCartney (Colne Valley), Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot) and Holly Mumby-Croft (Scunthorpe).
Downing Street ruled out performing a late U-turn ahead of the vote, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling MPs that support will continue for children on low incomes.
“We will continue to use the benefits system and all the systems of income to support children throughout the holidays as well,” he added.
In the Commons, several Conservative MPs argued against Labour’s proposal, with Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw) saying he did not believe in “nationalising children”.
He told the Commons: “Where is the slick PR campaign encouraging absent parents to take some responsibility for their children?
“I do not believe in nationalising children.
“Instead, we need to get back to the idea of taking responsibility, and this means less celebrity virtue-signalling on Twitter by proxy and more action to tackle the real causes of child poverty.”