BRAINTREE'S MP admits a lack of experience and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit meant he was unable to gain enough support to remain a frontrunner in Conservative leadership race.

James Cleverly pulled out of the contest to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister last week, just six days after launching his campaign to become the new Tory leader.

In an open letter to constituents sent out last Tuesday, Mr Cleverly explained a lack of support amongst his colleagues in the House of Commons was behind his decision to withdraw.

Now more than a week on from the announcement, the junior minister for Brexit insists he made the right decision.

He said: "Obviously I’m very disappointed but the point I made when I with withdrew was I always knew I was going to be an outside bet.

"It was a very big field with some really good candidates and it became clear I just didn’t have enough support to have a strong showing in the first round of voting.

"I always put myself forward to win so if that wasn’t going to happen there was no point in me running and dragging the process out further.

"I still think it was good to have so many candidates but I accept it’s a balancing act. It’s very important to have an open debate but at the same time to ensure the country’s interests are put first.

"It’s very important we stay focused on the national interest not just the party’s."

When launching his campaign on Wednesday, May 29, Mr Cleverly said he could bring change to the Conservative Party which just days before had seen swathes of voters turn to Nigel Farage's Brexit party in the European elections.

Despite gaining support among lower levek Tories, Mr Cleverly says there were concerns higher up that his leadership skills would be undermined by his lack of experience.

He said: "I spent a lot of time talking to people at grassroots level and I was getting a lot support for stating we needed to listen to what people want from Brexit, how it can be delivered and then what we do after Brexit.

"Support was coming from activists, members and even on the doorstep in Braintree, Halstead and the villages.

"At the end of the day I was asking the party to make a generational shift. I believe it’s very important to remain relevant and for all political parties to evolve.

"Though there was a lot of support across the wider party, there wasn’t enough support from MPs to make that jump this time.

"A number of them actually said to me directly at this point in time with Brexit up in the air like it is and the uncertainty, they needed someone with experience in government to guide us through."

Asked whether he would consider running to be his party's leader in the future, Mr Cleverly said: "We’ll see what happens. Right now, my focus on is making sure Brexit is delivered and doing what I can to make sure that happens."