LONDON (AP) — Nigel Farage, the vocal opponent of British European Union membership and unchecked immigration, will remain as leader of the UK Independence Party after the party rejected his post-election resignation, it said Monday.

UKIP chairman Steve Crowther said the party's National Executive Committee had unanimously turned down Farage's resignation, which was tendered three days ago following his failure to win a seat in the British Parliament.

Crowther said the party had done extremely well on a national level despite Farage's defeat in the South Thanet district. He said UKIP's performance in the May 7 election had been "a great success."

UKIP won only one seat in the British Parliament but got roughly 13 percent of the vote, which was considered by many political observers to be a strong showing. It also scored well in local council elections.

Farage, 50, had said repeatedly during the campaign he would not remain as party leader if he lost South Thanet. The district race was won by a Conservative Party candidate despite intense last minute campaigning by Farage, who blamed earlier poor performances on excruciating back pain.

Crowther said Farage would lead the party's campaign to win a referendum that would take Britain out of the European Union. A referendum is expected in 2017, but UKIP wants it sooner.

Farage, a former metals trader, had seemed reluctant to leave the limelight, saying in his brief resignation speech that he would consider running for party leader again in the future.

The party is known for its hostility to Britain's membership in the European Union, and Farage has long said Britain has surrendered its sovereignty to EU bureaucrats. UKIP also seeks to greatly reduce the number of immigrants arriving in the country — and to demand that new arrivals have health insurance so they don't pose a financial burden.

Farage remains a member of the European Parliament and is by far the best known UKIP member.