A SENIOR Conservative politician has said the Government “misunderstood” the mood of the country over free school meals and has urged ministers to think again.

Earlier this year Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford MBE fronted a campaign asking the Government to continue feeding students-in-need outside of school time.

Downing Street initially said no, but performed a U-Turn, subsequently agreeing to extend the free schools meals initiative throughout the six-week summer break.

The Labour Party, backed by the England international, then put forward a motion urging the Government to extend the scheme even further until Easter 2021.

On Wednesday evening, the proposal was defeated by a majority of 61 after 322 MPs voted against it, including Colchester’s Will Quince and Braintree’s James Cleverly.

The decision has been met with a wave of uproar from across the country, but Downing Street is refusing to yet again perform a U-Turn.

Sir Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich North Essex did not vote on the motion, but says his party might have got it wrong.

Speaking on Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, he said: “I think we have to admit that we have misunderstood the mood of the country here.

“The public want to see the Government taking a national lead on this.

"I think the Government will probably have to think again on that, particularly if there’s going to be more votes in the House of Commons.

“When you have got the chairman of the Education Select Committee not supporting the Government on this – and he’s a Conservative – I think that the Government has to listen to the Conservative Party.”

When asked how he would vote in any further Commons divisions, Sir Bernard remained slightly cagey.

He said: “I shall wait to see what the Government says and how they respond to the situation.”