Nigel Farage today confirmed he would be stepping down as Ukip leader after failing to win Thanet South from the Conservatives, but did not rule out returning to the helm in a bittersweet announcement for his detractors.
After losing the seat by almost 3,000 votes to Craig Mackinlay, Mr Farage did not immediately resign, but did so a short time later, saying: "I'm a man of my word". He had promised to step-down if he was not elected.
Nigel Farage crosses his fingers for the future as he announces he is standing down as the leader of Ukip
Mr Farage said he would consider running to return to the job after a summer off when the contest is held in September. Not ruling out a return tempered the joyous tone of tweets that swept across social media after his defeat, but not everyone thought Mr Farage's political career should end.
Lord Ashcroft said based on the level of support Ukip won, Mr Farage should be "in the Lords".
Mr Farage said he would recommend Suzanne Evans, the deputy chairman, be a stand-in leader until the leadership challenge is complete.
Mr Farage received 16,026 votes to Mr Mackinlay's 18,838. The Ukip leader was teary eyed on the stage, as his predicted defeat was announced, in an event overshadowed by the bemused excitement of Pub Landlord comedian, Al Murray, who was also standing.
After his defeat Mr Farage said: "On a professional level, I express today a degree of disappointment. On a personal level, I feel an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
He added: "I have never felt happier." A short time later he stood down as leader.
Mr Farage railed against an electoral system which handed the SNP 56 seats and Ukip one on broadly comparable vote tallies. He also drew comparisons between the seats won by the Conservatives versus his party.
He said: "We have a party in Britain who got 50% of the vote in one of the regions and nearly 100% of the seats.
"We have another party that scored nearly as many votes - four million - as well as the European elections last year that has finished up with one seat in Parliament. I think the time has come for real, genuine, radical political reform.
"It is Ukip that will be the party that leads it."
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Mr Farage added: "There was an earthquake in this election. It happened in Scotland, and I think what you saw were a lot of voters so scared of that Labour-SNP coalition that they shifted towards the Conservatives.
"That included some of the people here who voted Ukip last time round.
"But I saw another shift in this election and I saw Ukip the party, apparently the party for retired old colonels, suddenly the party for people under 30, particularly young working women. There is a big change going on in politics."
GENERAL ELECTION 2015