Nigel Farage will stay on as U.K. Independence Party leader, just three days after announcing his resignation following his failure to win a seat in Parliament.
After Farage was beaten in the coastal South Thanet district in southeast England Friday, he said he was looking forward to a “well deserved holiday,” though he said he might run for the leadership again later in the year.
UKIP only managed to win a single House of Commons seat even though it received almost 4 million votes in the general election, in which Prime Minister David Cameron won a surprise parliamentary majority.
“As promised, Nigel Farage tendered his official resignation as leader of UKIP,” the party’s chairman, Steve Crowther, said in a statement after a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee Monday. “This offer was unanimously rejected by the NEC members who produced overwhelmingly evidence that the UKIP membership did not want Nigel to go.”
Suzanne Evans, UKIP’s deputy chairman who took a leading role in the election campaign, had been proposed by Farage as interim leader.
“Mr. Farage withdrew his resignation and will remain leader of UKIP,” Crowther said.
The Conservative victory means Cameron will hold a referendum on staying in the European Union by the end of 2017, following a renegotiation of the terms of the U.K.’s membership. UKIP’s program calls for Britain to withdraw from the EU.
“The destiny of UKIP has become entwined with the destiny of Nigel Farage,” Matthew Goodwin, co-author of “Revolt on the Right,” a study of UKIP, told the BBC after the move was announced. “You’re going to have a very lively debate over Britain’s EU membership which is the one thing he’s waited his whole life to be a part of,” he said. “Is UKIP a political party or is UKIP a person?”
Farage wrote in his latest book, serialized in the Daily Telegraph newspaper before the election, that “it is frankly just not credible for me to continue to lead the party without a Westminster seat.”