Jo Swinson has admitted she smoked a ‘fair bit of cannabis’ as a student, saying it was ‘not just one’ and she ‘did inhale’.
The Liberal Democrat leader said her cannabis use was the ‘naughtiest’ thing she had ever done, a question which has proved difficult for political leaders to answer.
She also came under fire at a Channel 4 debate last night in which a furious viewer accused her of being a ‘Tory in disguise’.
Ms Swinson replied to the outburst by promising to end the austerity measures imposed by the coalition government she was part of between 2010 and 2015.
On the trail: Jo Swinson meets supporters in Sheffield on Sunday. The Liberal Democrat leader admitted she had smoked a ‘fair bit of cannabis’ as a student
The Lib Dem leader brought up her cannabis use when asked to identify the ‘naughtiest’ thing she had ever done.
‘I did smoke a fair bit of cannabis at university,’ she told PA. ‘It wasn’t just one, and I did inhale.
‘I don’t know whether that counts as particularly naughty, but your readers and viewers will be able to make up their own mind on that.’
Boris Johnson earlier tried to duck the question about his ‘naughtiest’ antics before eventually telling Sky News that he had sometimes cycled on the pavement.
In 2017, then-PM Theresa May was widely ridiculed for saying that her worst deed as a youngster was running through fields of wheat.
Drug use also became an issue during the Tory leadership race earlier this year after Michael Gove admitted taking cocaine on ‘several occasions’.
Later on Sunday, Ms Swinson’s appearance on a Channel 4 debate turned heated after an audience member accused her of being a ‘Tory in disguise’.
The woman in the audience, whose name was not given, said: ‘Why doesn’t Jo Swinson show her true colours? They’re blue.
Accusation: This audience member at a Channel 4 debate accused Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson of being a ‘Tory in disguise’
Response: Ms Swinson replied to the outburst by promising to end the austerity measures imposed by the coalition government she was part of between 2010 and 2015
‘You’re a Tory in disguise, state what you are. You dare to try and raise taxes on lower earners when the country is in austerity. How dare you.’
Ms Swinson replied to her critic by saying: ‘And we need to end that [austerity] by investing in our public services and we need to be honest about how we do that.
‘If you look at the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, they have looked at the Labour plan and they say they are not credible.’
The comeback saw shadow education secretary Angela Rayner launch into an angry tirade, yelling at the former coalition minister: ‘You voted for the bedroom tax, you voted for austerity, you voted for tuition fees.
‘You did that nine years ago – apologise for tuition fees.’
The Lib Dem leader responded by accusing Labour of ‘making a list of promises that you cannot deliver’.
Ms Swinson said she had apologised for her party’s part in hiking tuition fees, from £3,000 per year to a maximum of £9,000 in 2010.
She told the debate audience that she wanted Father Christmas to give shadow chancellor John McDonnell an abacus because ‘Labour’s plans do not add up’.
In full voice: The Liberal Democrat leader, pictured in Sheffield yesterday, said her cannabis use was the ‘naughtiest’ thing she had ever done
Final push: Jo Swinson canvassing with her party’s parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Hallam, Laura Gordon. Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg lost the seat in 2017
Firing back, Ms Rayner accused the Lib Dems of the same, arguing that there were not enough professional minders to fulfil the manifesto pledge of providing free childcare to all children over the age of nine months.
‘You’ve said you’re going to provide early years (childcare) but the truth is the figures don’t add up,’ said the shadow cabinet member.
As well as Labour and the Lib Dems, the SNP, Green Party and Plaid Cymru also took part in the debate.
Channel 4 stood two empty podiums where the Conservative and Brexit Party candidates would have been after both parties decided not to send representatives.
It followed a similar move last month, with the publicly owned broadcaster opted to have two melting ice-sculptures on stage during a leaders climate change debate to represent the absent Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.
On Sunday, presenter Cathy Newman read out the Tory responses to some of the non-Brexit related questions
However, the governing party’s decision to skip the debate was heavily criticised during the hour-and-a-half programme.
Ms Swinson said: ‘You’re doing a sterling job, Cathy, of reading out what they would have said but to be honest I think they should have turned up if they wanted to be represented – just like Boris Johnson couldn’t be bothered to turn up to the Channel 4 climate change debate.
‘It tells you exactly what the Tories think about the importance of the environment in this election.’