Gove's drug use 'no bar' to race for UK PM

Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart has apologised for smoking opium at a wedding in Iran

Tory leadership hopeful Michael Gove said he was lucky to have avoided going to prison for cocaine use but denied allegations of hypocrisy for criticising "middle-class professionals" who took drugs and wanted them to be legalised.

Earlier this week Mr Gove admitted taking cocaine on "several social occasions", saying he used the banned substance when he was younger and deeply regrets it.

When asked whether he felt that this admission should affect his chances of becoming leader of the Tories, Gove said: "It was 20 years ago and yes, it was a mistake".

"It was something I deeply regret".

"When it comes to drugs.middle-class drug use.anyone who takes class-A drugs need to think about that supply chain that comes from Colombia".

The 51-year-old Tory MP said he was "a young journalist" when he made a decision to take cocaine, and that he had not envisaged going into politics at the time.

He added: "I think it is the case that if I were elected as the prime minister of this country then of course it would be the case that I would be able to go to the United States".

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But as the Conservative leadership campaign heats up, it remains unclear how party members will receive the news.

Now it seems to have been proven as the race to become the next Conservative prime minister sees an avalanche of mea culpas on past drug use. 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?'

"One of the things I also completely agree with is that the drug trade is wrong, that drugs wreck lives and that's one of the reasons why I sought, in office, to try to help people to move away from that".

"I don't believe that past mistakes disqualify you."
"I didn't act with an eye to that", he added.

USA immigration law specialist Susan McFadden claimed Mr Gove's admission might make him "inadmissible" to the U.S. if the Tory hopeful had lied on his visa waiver or regular visa application before his previous visits to the country. "I rather admire his honesty".

Wildcard candidate Rory Stewart told the Telegraph last week that he had smoked opium in Afghanistan at a wedding, but that his hosts, a poor family, had most likely put very little of the class A drug in the pipe and it had little effect upon him.

Leadership nominations will close at 17:00 BST on Monday, the party has said.

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