Well it was not to be.

On a personal level I was, of course, disappointed not to get further in the Conservative leadership contest.

But I also understand my colleagues believing they needed a fresh face rather than someone who had fought the contest before.

I was deeply humbled by the enormous numbers of supportive letters and emails I got from South West Surrey residents – and, indeed, across the country.

I was also very proud the platform I stood on withstood the intense media scrutiny it received.

I hope now that some of the things I campaigned for – more doctors for the NHS, sticking to our net zero plans and aiming to be the world’s next Silicon Valley – will be picked up by other candidates.

I have decided to support Rishi Sunak to be our next prime minister. I thought this week I would tell you why.

I don’t agree with everything Rishi has done (on corporation tax, for example) but the starting point of any economic policy must surely be total honesty about the position we are in and the challenges we face.

It is simply not possible to spend £400 billion supporting businesses and families through Covid, as we rightly did, without any consequences.

We have an extraordinarily bright future as a country but we will only realise the potential we have if we face up squarely to the challenges in front of us.

Rishi stands head and shoulders above the other candidates in his willingness to do this.

But in the end a decision about our next prime minister must be based on character rather than any individual policies. I have learned through years of being close to two prime ministers that the scrutiny you are under in that job is greater than any other.

Your virtues are magnified but so are your vices.

So the question I ask myself is does someone have the character to lead us, including telling us things we may not want to hear? Does someone have the resilience to take the knocks that inevitably come?

Do they have an intellectual consistency and a guiding framework to their beliefs that will stop them being buffeted around by the daily storms that are a feature of Westminster life?

When it comes to Rishi Sunak, the answer is a resounding yes.

As someone from a business background, his experience will be very vital in guiding us through the current economic headwinds.

Being the son of a GP and pharmacist means he has always understood the importance of the NHS.

His willingness to tell Conservative Party members this is not the time for tax cuts shows he also has the courage to lead with messages that may not be welcome.

Most of all, he has been through the ups and downs of politics as a senior cabinet minister (including the criticism of his wife) through which he showed he has an inner core that is rock solid.

There are many outstanding candidates who put their names forward.

I am proud that when I dropped out, two-thirds of the remaining six were women and half people of colour – showing just how far the Conservative Party has come as the party of aspiration and meritocracy.

But when it comes to the qualities that I want to see in our next prime minister, there is one candidate who stands head and shoulders about the rest. I am proud to support Rishi Sunak.