Nigel Farage has had his resignation from Ukip rejected and he will remain as leader, the party has said.

Farage stepped down as leader of Ukip following his failure to win a seat at this year's general election in South Thanet.

Farage said he hoped to have a "summer off" from politics before deciding on his next move.

However, the party's national executive committee (NEC) has rejected his resignation and asked him to withdraw it.

Ukip chairman Steve 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 overwhelming evidence that the Ukip membership did not want Nigel to go.

"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."

Farage originally offered to step down as Ukip's leader following his defeat to the Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay in South Thanet by nearly 3,000 votes.

In his resignation speech, Farage was open to the possibility he could throw his hat into the ring when Ukip decided on who the next leader would be in September.

He said: "I intend to take the summer off, enjoy myself a little bit - not do very much politics at all. There will be a leadership election for the next leader of Ukip in September and I will consider over the course of this summer whether to put my name forward to do that job again."

Deputy chairman Suzanne Evans was the bookie's' favourite to take over from Farage if the 51-year-old decided not to return.