Michael Gove, British PM hopeful: 'I deeply regret' taking cocaine

Michael Gove, who was previously Justice Secretary, said he has a "profound sense of regret about it all."

London (CNN)To many an outsider, Britain seems to have been on drugs during its often farcical attempts to leave the European Union.

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 past two months have seen former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab admitting to have dabbled with recreational cannabis, followed by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt saying he quaffed a marijuana-laced drink while backpacking in India. Fellow Cabinet minister Rory Stewart joined the fray at the end of May, confessing to smoking opium at a wedding in Iran.
    The most recent admission came this weekend when Michael Gove admitted to taking drugs on several occasions when he was a "young journalist" two decades ago. He called it a "mistake" that he "deeply" regrets.
    In a released excerpt from a book on Gove's life, the Environment Secretary is said to have confessed, while being quizzed by his leadership team, to consuming cocaine.
    "He was firmly instructed not to give that answer in public, and told instead to fall back on the words (former Prime Minister David) Cameron had used when he was running for leader, namely that politicians are entitled to a private life before entering politics," the Daily Mail reported off a passage from Owen Bennett's book "Michael Gove: A Man In A Hurry."
    Asked directly by the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday if he had ever taken cocaine and if he knew it was a crime, Gove responded: "Yes it was a crime, it was a mistake, I deeply regret it."
    Gove said he was "fortunate" he didn't go to prison. Asked if he had a cocaine "habit", Gove said: "No I don't believe it was."
    The minister, who was previously Justice Secretary, said he has a "profound sense of regret about it all."

    Drug of the privileged

    The conventional wisdom in politics is any admission of drug-taking could finish off a person's career. But that trend has been bucked in the past few decades.
    Before becoming US president, Bill Clinton in 1992 tried to squirrel out of marijuana questions by saying he didn't inhale in the 1960s. Former British Prime Minister Cameron remained coy on the rumor that he had smoked a joint while at school.
    But cocaine is a harder drug than cannabis and has recently been blamed for a rise in violent crime in the United Kingdom. Last year, the commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, called middle-class cocaine users hypocrites for "happily talking about global warming, fair trade, environmental protection and organic farming, but think there's no harm in taking a bit of cocaine," she said, according to The Times newspaper.
    In the United Kingdom, addictive and expensive powder is usually considered the drug of choice among the privileged. Gove's