He dropped out to become campaign manager for former health secretary Frank Dobson, who announced his candidacy on Saturday.
Hugh Try, chairman of the Construction Industry Training Board, said: “I am sure he would have made an excellent mayor but it is even better for us that he continues to give an outstanding lead to the construction industry. There is a lot of work left to do – particularly in advocating change in the industry and changing the approach of government as a client.”
Construction Industry Council chairman Graham Watts took a more pragmatic view. He said: “The industry is going to lose him anyway and it is a silly attitude to mourn his loss. For the construction industry to have friends in high places in other ministerial jobs is quite important.”