Ex-Cabinet minister Owen Paterson, another Leadsom supporter, attacked the “brutal assault” waged against his favoured candidate.
He said: “I’m disappointed because I have had calls all over the weekend from people in the party who wanted to organise hustings meetings and there was real enthusiasm.
“My own association actually saw a sharp increase in membership only last Friday.
“So it is disappointing because I had absolute confidence she would have won with the membership
“But she has made her decision and I think it’s a very noble thing to have done, she made it very clear she did it in the interests of the country.
“She didn’t think a prolonged leadership campaign was the right thing at this moment.
“And she had been under the most brutal assault, which was miserable for her.”