SENIOR Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin has said the Government had “misunderstood” the mood of the country over free school meals and urged ministers to think again.

The Government is resisting demands led by footballer Marcus Rashford to extend free meals into the school holidays during the coronavirus pandemic.

A vote on the measures was backed by Labour and made its way to Parliament this week, but it was defeated by 322 votes to 261.

The Scottish Government has already planned on continuing free school meals for the upcoming holidays but dozens of hospitality businesses in England have had to step in to support families.

READ MORE: Pubs and cafes step in after Tories reject Marcus Rashford's school meals campaign

Jenkin told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “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 (Robert Halfon) not supporting the Government on this – and he’s a Conservative – I think that the Government has to listen to the Conservative Party.”

READ MORE: Douglas Ross's excuses on free school meals vote 'all over the shop', SNP say

Asked how he would vote in any further Commons divisions, Sir Bernard said: “I shall wait to see what the Government says and how they respond to the situation.”