Nick Clegg has stood down as the leader of the Liberal Democrats after the party lost the majority of their seats at the general election, a set of results he described as "crushing and unkind".

The yellow outfit, which had teamed up with the Tories in 2010 to form a coalition government, saw the number of seats they held in the House of Commons plummet from 57 to just eight.

The Liberal Democrats were hit with some very high-profile casualties, including the former business secretary Vince Cable and ex-chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

Clegg was able to retain his Sheffield Hallam seat after a close fight with Labour's Oliver Coppard. But the former deputy prime minister was compelled to stand down as head of the Liberal Democrats after his party sustained heavy losses throughout the UK.

"I always expected this election to be exceptionally difficult for the Liberal Democrats given the heavy responsibilities we've had to bear in government, in the most challenging of circumstances," Clegg said.

"But clearly the results have been immeasurably more crushing and unkind than I could have ever of feared. I must take responsibility and therefore I announce that I will be resigning as the leader of the Liberal Democrats."

The 48-year-old also warned liberalism had "lost" but he urged that "it's more precious than ever and we must keep fighting for it".

Former health minister Norman Lamb and ex-president of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron will be front-runners in the leadership contest.

Elsewhere, Nigel Farage resigned as Ukip leader after he failed to win the Kent constituency of South Thanet.

Farage recommended Suzanne Evans, the manifesto author and deputy chairman of the purple party, should take over as leader.

The announcement came after the Eurosceptic party was only able to secure one seat at the election in the shape of Douglas Carswell's Clacton-on-Sea.

David Cameron, meanwhile, is expected to visit the Queen later on 8 May in a bid to form a shock majority Conservative government.