Conservative MP Ben Bradley has defended his comments over tweets he posted over free school meals. 

The Tory MP has been accused of stigmatising working class families after sending a controversial tweet, said it had been “totally taken out of context”.

A political row has been sparked after Bradley replied to a tweet in which another user described the free school meals programme as “£20 cash direct to a crack den and a brothel”.

READ MORE: Row erupts over free school meal comments made by Tory MP Ben Bradley

Mr Bradley said giving children who live in “chaotic” situations an “unrestricted voucher to spend on whatever isn’t helpful” – but Labour has pointed out the vouchers in summer could only be used to buy food.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast he said: “It (the tweet) has been totally taken out of context. I was merely making the point that there are kids who live in really chaotic situations, really difficult lives, where actually giving them an unrestricted voucher to spend on whatever isn’t helpful.

“The point I’m making is we need to wrap our arms as a society around those families. That’s why Government has given that money to local government because they are best placed working with social services, working with schools, to be able to find those families, to target them, to help them in a more holistic way than meal vouchers.”

He added “not everything has to come from central Government” and said local communities also have a role to play, praising Marcus Rashford’s campaign as “brilliant in rallying round communities”.

MPs rejected the Manchester United player’s call to offer free school meals for children during half-term.

Following Mr Bradley’s tweet, Labour’s 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.”

Shadow children’s minister Tulip Siddiq has written to the co-chairwoman of the Conservative Party, Amanda Milling, demanding an apology is sought from Mr Bradley.

She said: “Notwithstanding the fact that free school meal vouchers could only be redeemed in participating supermarkets for the purchase of food and groceries, I am sure that you will want to make clear that this kind of crass stigmatisation of children from poorer families is deeply damaging, and distance yourself from Mr Bradley’s misleading and troubling comments.

“In the meantime, I respectfully ask you to request an apology from Mr Bradley to the millions of children from lower income households who benefit from free school meal support.”