Nigel Farage is set to remain leader of UKIP as the party’s executive committee has refused to accept his resignation.
After losing the race to become MP for South Thanet he announced his resignation as head of the party.
Although UKIP polled 3.9m votes in Thursday’s general election they now have just one MP in Westminster, former Tory Douglas Carswell in Clacton.
It finished second in seven constituencies across Sussex, and although the party’s share of the vote increased dramatically, none of its candidates mounted a serious challenge to Tory incumbents.
Today UKIP chairman Steve Crowther said the party’s national executive committee (NEC) believed the election campaign had been a ‘great success’ and said members of the committee ‘unanimously’ rejected Mr Farage’s letter of resignation.
Mr Crowther said: “As promised, Nigel Farage tendered his official resignation as leader of UKIP to the NEC. This offer was unanimously rejected by the NEC members, who produced overwhelmingly evidence that the UKIP membership did not want Nigel to go.”
Mr Farage recommended that Suzanne Evans, the deputy chairman, should take over until a contest is held in September.
He left open the prospect of returning to the role by competing in the election after taking the summer off politics.
Mr Crowther’s statement continued: “The NEC also concluded that UKIP’s general election campaign had been a great success.
“We have fought a positive campaign with a very good manifesto and despite relentless, negative attacks and an astonishing last-minute swing to the Conservatives over fear of the SNP, that in these circumstances, four million votes was an extraordinary achievement.
“On that basis, Mr Farage withdrew his resignation and will remain leader of UKIP. In addition, the NEC recognised that the referendum campaign has already begun this week and we need our best team to fight that campaign led by Nigel.
“He has therefore been persuaded by the NEC to withdraw his resignation and remains leader of UKIP.”
Earlier today, Mr Farage took part in a TV debate on the BBC and was interviewed on Sky News, while taking part in VE Day commemorations over the weekend.
He repeatedly insisted ahead of and during the general election campaign he had no intention of staying in the leader’s job.
In his autobiography, The Purple Revolution, he wrote: “The consequences of me failing to secure a seat for myself in the Commons would be significant for both myself and the party.
“It is frankly just not credible for me to continue to lead the party without a Westminster seat.
“What credibility would UKIP have in the Commons if others had to enunciate party policy in Parliament and the party leader was only allowed in as a guest?
“Was I supposed to brief UKIP policy from the Westminster Arms? No - if I fail to win South Thanet, it is curtains for me. I will have to step down.”
He later said he would resign ‘in ten minutes’ if he lost the election.
Less than an hour after the final results on Friday morning Mr Farage released a statement resigning as UKIP leader.
It read: “There hasn’t been a single day since 1994 that hasn’t been dominated by UKIP. I have tried to mix that with family, I tried for nine years to mix it with running my own business.
“It really has been seven days a week, totally unrelenting, and occasionally let down by people who perhaps haven’t always said and done the right things.
“So I feel a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
“I haven’t had a fortnight’s holiday since October 1993, I intend to take the summer off, enjoy myself a little bit, not do very much politics at all.”
Mr Farage has left the role of UKIP leader before - quitting in 2009 only to return after Lord Rannoch oversaw their disastrous 2010 general election campaign.
Ms Evans tweeted: “Very pleased Nigel Farage is still at the helm. As stated previously, I tried to persuade him to stay and was never actually appointed leader!”