Nigel Farage today confirmed he would be stepping down as Ukip leader after failing to win Thanet South from the Conservatives.
He told activists "I'm a man of my word" after promising defeat would force him to quit.
But Mr Farage raised the prospect he would consider running to return to the job after a summer off when the contest is held in September.
Mr Farage said he would recommend Suzanne Evans, the deputy chairman, be a stand-in leader until the leadership challenge is complete.
In his concession speech at the count, Mr Farage railed against an electoral system which handed the SNP 56 seats and Ukip one, on broadly comparable vote tallies.
He joked that compared with the last election – when he was in intensive care following an air crash – he felt “pretty good”.
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.”
Mr Farage offered his congratulations to David Cameron for winning a majority, saying it was “something nobody thought was possible”.