UNICEF Should Be ‘Ashamed’ for Feeding Hungry Kids, Says Millionaire UK Government Minister

Jacob Rees-Mogg's comments come after the UN agency said it would launch a domestic emergency response in Britain for the first time.
December 17, 2020, 2:26pm
Jacob Rees-Mogg Says UNICEF Should Be 'Ashamed' For, Uh, Feeding Hungry Children in the UK
Yes, this is Jacob Rees-Mogg. Photo: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

UNICEF should “be ashamed of itself” for saying it would provide money to help feed hungry children in the UK, multimillionaire Tory MP and government minister Jacob Rees-Mogg says.

The Leader of the House of Commons, who has a reported net wealth in excess of £100 million, told MPs that UNICEF’s move was a "political stunt of the lowest order", and that the UN agency is "meant to be looking after people in the poorest, most deprived countries in the world".

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UNICEF announced yesterday it would be intervening in the UK for the first time to tackle child hunger, after the “unprecedented impact of the coronavirus crisis”.

Anna Kettley, director of programmes at UNICEF UK, said: “This is UNICEF’s first ever emergency response within the UK, introduced to tackle the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus crisis and reach the families most in need.”

The UNICEF grant for the School Food Matters programme will provide around 1,800 children in the London borough of Southwark with “breakfast bags” during the Christmas holidays and the winter half term in February. 

Rees-Mogg’s comments followed a question from Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, who said the government was not working hard enough to tackle inequality in the UK. 

“While children go hungry, a wealthy few enjoy obscene riches,” she said, adding that the government had “handed billions in dodgy COVID contracts,” to Tory donors.

“Will he give government time to discuss the need to make him and his super rich chums pay their fair share so we can end the grotesque inequality that scars our society?” she asked.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner condemned Rees-Mogg’s comments. She said on Twitter, “The only people who should be ashamed of themselves are Boris Johnson and the Tories letting children go hungry and leaving 4.2m children living in poverty in one of the richest countries on Earth.”

“Every Tory MP who voted against free school meals should be ashamed of themselves.”

Food bank usage in the UK had been rising since before the coronavirus pandemic. In the last five years, food bank usage as measured by charity the Trussell Trust has risen by 74 percent. Between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, the charity delivered 1.9 million emergency food parcels to those in crisis, with 700,000 going to children.

“Every Tory MP who voted against free school meals should be ashamed of themselves.”

Food bank usage in the UK had been rising since before the coronavirus pandemic. In the last five years, food bank usage as measured by charity the Trussell Trust has risen by 74 percent. Between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, the charity delivered 1.9 million emergency food parcels to those in crisis, with 700,000 going to children.