The confession by Environment Secretary Michael Gove that he once took cocaine has again shone the spotlight on past drug use by leading politicians.
The Tory leadership contender has said he “deeply regrets” using the illicit substance two decades ago, but he is not alone.
Boris Johnson, the favourite to succeed Mrs May as Conservative leader and prime minister, admitted to GQ magazine in 2007 he tried cocaine and cannabis as a teenager at Oxford.
“I tried it at university and I remember it vividly. And it achieved no pharmacological, psychotropic or any other effect on me whatsoever.”
He later gave a different account while appearing on satirical TV panel show, Have I Got News For You.
“I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed and so it did not go up my nose. In fact, I may have been doing icing sugar,” he said.
On cannabis he said: “There was a period before university when I had quite a few (cannabis joints). It was jolly nice. But apparently it is very different these days. Much stronger.
“I’ve become very illiberal about it. I don’t want my kids to take drugs,” he added.
Asked about his previous comments on drugs in a 2008 interview, when he was standing for Mayor of London, Mr Johnson said: “Well, that was when I was 19. It all goes to show that, sometimes, it’s better not to say anything.”
Following that interview, Mr Johnson said days later: “To say that I have taken cocaine is simply untrue.”
He added: “As I have said many times, I was once at university offered a white substance, none of which went up my nose and I have no idea whether it was cocaine or not.”
International Development Secretary Rory Stewart has apologised for smoking opium at a wedding in Iran.
Speaking to Sky News last week, Mr Stewart admitted to making a “very stupid mistake” 15 years ago, and said he “went to 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.”
Mr Stewart insisted it “had no effect” on him “because I was walking 25-30 miles a day”.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he might have once tried cannabis in his youth, telling The Times “I think I had a cannabis lassi (drink) when I went backpacking through India.”
He cheekily added that it was “almost as naughty as wheatfields” in a dig at his beleaguered leader’s “guilty moment”‘.
Former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey has admitted she smoked cannabis.
The Tory leadership contender said had “tried some pot” when she was “much younger”.
In the wake of Mr Gove’s admission, ex-leader of the House of Commons and leadership rival Andrea Leadsom told The Independent: “I have never taken cocaine or Class A drugs.
“Everyone is entitled to a private life before becoming an MP. I smoked weed at university and have never smoked it again since.”
The current crop of leadership candidates have, then, been open about their drugs use, but former Conservative prime minister David Cameron took a different tack.
While running for Tory leader in 2005 (with Gove a member of his team), the future PM was asked at a party conference fringe meeting whether he had taken drugs at university.
“I had a normal university experience. “There were things that I did then that I don’t think that I should talk about now I’m a politician.”
Later, on the BBC’s debate show Question Time, he was asked if he thought that drug-taking at university is “all part of an ordinary university experience?”, in modern-day Britain.
Mr Cameron was applauded for replying that politicians deserved a private life before entering politics.
His close friend and former chancellor George Osborne, on the other hand, has taken a firmer approach.
The current editor of the Evening Standard was forced to deny taking drugs after newspapers printed a picture of him with his arm around a woman described as a “cocaine-snorting hooker”.
Mr Osborne suggested he was the victim of a “smear campaign”, adding: “The allegations are completely untrue, and dredging up a photo from when I was 22 years old is pretty desperate stuff.”
In 2007, several ministers in Gordon Brown’s government, including chancellor Alistair Darling, home secretary Jacqui Smith and deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, admitted using cannabis in their youth.
Yvette Cooper, then minister for housing, said cannabis use at university was “something that I have left behind” while Andy Burnham, now Mayor of Greater Manchester, admitted smoking the drug.
In 1992, US presidential hopeful Bill Clinton famously said he tried marijuana while at Oxford University but “didn’t inhale”.
The remark has been lampooned many times, including by then senator Barack Obama in 2006, who said: “When I was a kid, I inhaled … that was the point”.
Mr Obama also admitted to using “a little blow” (cocaine) in his first book Dreams From My Father.
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