ALEX COOK, owner of two popular restaurants in Stokesley, has gone viral after banning four MPs from visiting his establishments, following their decision to vote against extending free school meals to children in need.

Conservative MPs Matt Vickers, Simon Clarke, Jacob Young and Rishi Sunak are now barred for life from the Mill and Il Mulino.

A motion put forward by the Labour party called for free school meals to be extended for the school holidays until Easter 2021. It was defeated by 261 votes to 322, in the Commons on Wednesday, October 21.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has been leading calls for the extension to the scheme, but the Conservative government state they have increased universal credit to assist low paid families throughout the pandemic.

"This made me so angry," said Alex. "I am not political, but it's just not right for children to go hungry. Conservative MPs voted against this bill but I know for a fact MPs get subsidised meals themselves at the House of Commons. I must stress this is not a personal attack on these four MPs. I would like them to go back on their vote. This is so wrong on so many levels."

After writing about his intention on Facebook, his post went viral. The bemused barman said: "The phone hasn't stopped ringing. First it was the tabloids, then the Times called, and then the TV stations."

Alex was also bewildered by the effect his post had had. "I used the platform of the Mill's social media to get my message out there, and have had a strong reaction from all over the world, lots of support but also some people complaining that the hospitality sector has been well supported, so I should be grateful to the government. This is true and we are all grateful; but this is something else entirely."

Alex joined the End Child Food Poverty campaign where more than 600 businesses, charities, local authorities, football clubs and individuals provided free or subsidised meals over the October half term break, this week. Businesses and councils, some Tory-led, have taken matters into their own hands. The Mill has delivered 300 meals to food banks in Stockton and Middlesbrough.

On Twitter Sir Kier Starmer has vowed that his party will force another vote if there is no change of course on this issue before the Christmas break. Sir Bernard Jenkins, Conservative Chair of the Commons Liaison Committee feels that the government has misunderstood the mood of the country over free school meals.

Marcus Rashford has vowed to keep fighting, saying: " This is not going away anytime soon, and neither am I."