Cannabis lassi, cocaine: The past drug use of UK PM hopefuls

Updated on Jun 09, 2019 10:05 AM IST

The three leading hopefuls are former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and environment secretary Michael Gove.

Boris Johnson, who was married to Indian-origin Marina Wheeler and is the favourite to win the election and enter 10, Downing Street, has previously admitted to taking cocaine while at the University of Oxford.(AFP)
Boris Johnson, who was married to Indian-origin Marina Wheeler and is the favourite to win the election and enter 10, Downing Street, has previously admitted to taking cocaine while at the University of Oxford.(AFP)
London | By

Now that Prime Minister Theresa May is officially on her way out, leading contenders for her job have come under intense focus, revealing indiscretions in their younger days that included imbibing ‘cannabis lassi’ in India and taking cocaine.

The three leading hopefuls are former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and environment secretary Michael Gove. So far 11 leading lights of the Conservative party have declared their candidature in the leadership election.

Hunt, who revealed in October 2018 that he is reflecting on the idea of apologising for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, was asked by The Times whether he took drugs in his younger days. He said: “I think I had a cannabis lassi when I went backpacking through India.”

Gove, a former journalist, admitted to the Daily Mail on Saturday: “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”.

“I think all politicians have lives before politics. Certainly when I was working as a journalist I didn’t imagine I would go into politics or public service...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?’”

Johnson, who was married to Indian-origin Marina Wheeler and is the favourite to win the election and enter 10, Downing Street, has previously admitted to taking cocaine while at the University of Oxford: “That was when I was 19.”

Another hopeful is international development secretary Rory Stewart, who once hiked across Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. Dominic Raab, also a candidate, has previously admitted smoking cannabis.

Theresa May stepped down on Friday as leader of the Conservative Party, but will remain as prime minister until her successor is elected and takes over from her in July, after completion of the two-phase leadership election.

The first phase will see party MPs vote in several rounds from next week until the candidates are whittled down to two. The second phase will see over 1.2 lakh party members casting their votes on the two candidates, with the result declared in the week beginning July 22.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

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