Matt Hancock mistakenly praises ‘Daniel’ Rashford for campaign

UK health secretary blames Harry Potter books for error in Sky News interview

Boris Johnson has executed a humiliating U-turn over free school meals for the poorest families in Britain over the summer, announcing a new £120 million voucher scheme after pressure from footballer Marcus Rashford. Video: Reuters

 

UK health secretary Matt Hancock has said he may have had “Harry Potter on the mind” when he mistakenly praised “Daniel Rashford” for his work on free school meals.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford led a campaign to extend the children’s food voucher scheme into the summer holidays, which forced a change in policy with a £120 million fund to feed 1.3 million children in England over the six-week break.

Denying that the government made an embarrassing U-turn on the subject, Mr Hancock told Sky News on Wednesday morning: “Righty-ho, I will tell you what happened, the prime minister talked to Daniel Rashford, he considered it and made his decision – I think it’s terrific.”

The minister later told radio station LBC that his child’s fondness for the JK Rowling novels may have been to blame and “maybe I had Harry Potter on the mind”.

Harry Potter was played by Daniel Radcliffe in the movie adaptions of the popular books.

Mr Hancock added: “My seven-year-old listens to Harry Potter and reads Harry Potter avidly, including at 5.30 this morning when I got up to do this morning’s media round.”

He suggested it had been “too early in the morning” and laughed as he told BBC Breakfast: “I completely misspoke.”

England player Rashford (22) appeared to joke about the incident, responding on Twitter by saying “I’ve been called much worse over the last couple of days”. – PA