CONSERVATIVE leadership hopeful Michael Gove has said he “deeply regrets” taking cocaine “on several occasions”.
The Environment Secretary said he used the drug 20 years ago and branded it “a mistake”.
Mr Gove told the Daily Mail: “I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago.
“At the time I was a young journalist. It was a mistake. I look back and think ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’.”
He added: “It was 20 years ago and yes, it was a mistake. But I don’t believe that past mistakes disqualify you.”
Mr Gove, MP for Surrey Heath, said it would be up to his colleagues whether he should be leader, but added that he did not “act with an eye” on going into politics when he was younger.
“The question now is that people should look at my record as a politician and ask themselves ‘is this person we see ready to lead now?’,” he said.
“I think all politicians have lives before politics… I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago. At the time I was a young journalist. It was a mistake. I look back and I think, I wish I hadn’t done that’.”
“Certainly when I was working as a journalist I didn’t imagine I would go into politics or public service. I didn’t act with an eye to that,” he added.
Bookies’ favourite Boris Johnson has also previously admitted to taking cocaine in 2008 when he was running to be mayor of London.
Meanwhile, in what appears to be a current bizarre trend of attempting to appear more street-wise and ‘down-to-earth’ to Tory members (i.e. voters in the impending leadership race), Rory Stewart, another of the Tory leadership contenders, recently apologised after admitting he had smoked opium at a wedding in Iran.
Stewart said: “I think it was a very stupid mistake and I did it 15 years ago, and I actually went on in Iran to see the damage that opium was doing to communities.”
He added: “I’ve seen it as a prisons minister. It was something that was very wrong, I made a stupid mistake.
“I was at a wedding in a large community meeting and somebody passed this pipe around the room and I smoked it – I shouldn’t have done, I was wrong.”
Nominations for the Tory leadership contest close on Monday.