In the run-up to the recent prime-ministerial election, there was a brief but highly entertaining respite from the endless dirge of British politics. With tabloid guns squarely pointing at them, four of the Tory-party candidates—Rory Stewart, Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson, and Michael Gove—all fessed up that they had at some point, before taking political orders, done drugs. Stewart confessed to having smoked opium at a wedding in Iran; Hunt “thinks” he drank a cannabis-laced lassi while backpacking in India; and Michael Gove said he had done cocaine on “several occasions,” adding the caveat that it was “when I was working as a journalist.” The press had a field day.

Boris Johnson, our newly installed leader, had already spoken up on a 2005 episode of the satirical TV show Have I Got News for You, saying, “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.” But in an interview with British GQ two years later, he admitted to having tried cocaine and cannabis at university, adding that it had achieved “no pharmacological, psychotropic or any other effect on me whatsoever.”