Michael Gove has set out plans to replace VAT after Brexit with a “lower, simpler” tax sale if he is elected Conservative leader.

The environment secretary has shifted focus on policy issues after admitting to his past cocaine use, in which he “deeply regretted”.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Gove pledged a “pro-business economic plan” to take on Jeremy Corbyn’s “Marxist message”.

“It would mean reducing the regulations which hold business back, cutting and reforming taxes – such as business rates – which put pressure on small businesses and undermine our high streets, using the opportunity of life outside the EU to look to replace VAT with a lower, simpler, sales tax,” he wrote.

Mr Gove, who admitted on Friday to taking cocaine on several occasions, told the Daily Mail he “deeply regrets” taking the drug when he worked as a journalist 20 years ago.

He said that using the drug was a “mistake”, adding: “I look back and think ‘I wish I hadn’t done that.”

Mr Gove said he does not feel that his past mistakes should be held against him.

Following his admission, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas criticised him for the policies he support as justice secretary.

Caroline Lucas has accused Michael Gove of 'rank hypocrisy'
Image: Caroline Lucas has accused Michael Gove of ‘rank hypocrisy’

She wrote on Twitter: “Rank hypocrisy of minister admitting to ‘mistakes’ on drug use while backing policies that perpetuate harm.

“From locking up disproportionate number of young, black men, to treating drug misuse as crime rather than health issue, prohibition fails us all.”

A Times article written by Mr Gove has also emerged – around the time he admits to have taken the drug.

In it, he criticised “middle class professionals” who took drugs.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told reporters he is “unconcerned about Michael Gove’s past life”, and said: “Well, he has decided to tell us what his past was like, that’s his business.”

He said he did not think past mistakes should disqualify potential leadership candidates, adding: “I think people should tell us what they have done and move on in life.

“But I’m unconcerned about Michael Gove’s past life or behaviour to be quite honest.”

Dominic Raab, who has admitted taking cannabis as a student, also defended Mr Gove’s actions saying he “admires his honesty”.

 Michael Gove reacts as he leaves the Cabinet office in London

He told the BBC’s Today programme that he does not think it has barred him from the battle to become prime minister.

Mr Gove is in the Tory leadership race with the likes of Mr Raab, Boris Johnson and Rory Stewart to become the UK’s new leader.

He admitted to taking drugs ahead of the release of a book about him by journalist Owen Bennett.

Michael Gove: A Man In A Hurry claims he confessed to cocaine use when he was being “put through his paces” by advisers in the 2016 leadership contest.

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