A political row has erupted following comments made by a Tory MP defending the UK Government's decision to oppose Marcus Rashford's free school meals campaign. 

In a series of tweets that have been screengrabbed and shared across social media Bradley appeared to write: “At one school in Mansfield 75% of kids have a social worker, 25% of parents are illiterate. Their estate is the centre of the area’s crime.

HeraldScotland:

"Nobody is 'not helping' but #FSM isn't precise enough to target vulnerable kids with right help.

"There is no sense whatsoever in pretending to ourselves that just giving 1.4m kids free meals in hols fixes things."

READ MORE: Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross explains why he failed to vote for free school meals

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq has written to the Conservative Party Chair demanding an apology following the comments, with many criticising the MP on social media. 

Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said: “A Conservative MP has said that free school meals are effectively a direct payment to brothels and drug dealers.

“Notwithstanding the fact that the vouchers in summer could only be used to purchase food, this stigmatisation of working class families is disgraceful and disgusting.”

Bradley has since deleted his tweets and took to social media to explain his comments saying: "Pretty clear that I'm about to get hammered across social media/papers for the crime of a tweet where the context wasn't as clear as I'd thought it was. Needless to say, I haven't said what I'm being accused of, nor would I ever. I'm sorry if others get dragged in to the fire."

READ MORE: Ben Bradley defends tweet after he calls free school meals programme “£20 cash direct to a crack den and a brothel”

He told the Daily Mirror: "I absolutely did not say what is being reported, nor is that even close to what the context of the thread was about. It's hugely frustrating that I will now be shot down for something I haven't said!

"I spoke about extreme examples of poverty in my constituency: two children I know of who live in an environment surrounded by drugs and crime.

HeraldScotland:

"I said that it's these children we most need to help, but that FSM does not help them.

READ MORE: Scottish Government pledges more than £10m to cover free school meals during holidays

"One reply said that giving cash to those families is not a good idea - I assume referring to the argument that we've helped by increasing UC payments and suggesting that it wouldn't be spent responsibly.

MPs rejected a campaign, started by Manchester United forward Rashford, to offer free school meals for local children during half-term.

A vote on the measures was defeated by 322 votes to 261.