Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg insisted he was not going to resign after a battering in the local and European elections.
The deputy prime minister said the loss of more than 300 councillors and all but one of the Lib Dems’ 11 MEPs was ‘gutting’.
But he claimed he led ‘the most united, resilient and toughest party in UK politics’.
Mr Clegg added: ‘Of course it is right to have searching questions in the wake of such a bad set of election results. But, if I’m honest, the easiest thing in politics, just as in life, sometimes when the going gets really tough is just to walk away, to wash your hands of it.
‘I’m not going to do that and my party is not going to do that.
‘It hasn’t crossed my mind that I would resign.’
Mr Clegg appealed for Lib Dems to hold their nerve until next year’s general election, arguing that removing him as leader would be even more damaging to the party’s prospects.
His words came after Lib Dem MP John Pugh suggested business secretary Vince Cable should be leader.
But Mr Cable said Mr Clegg ‘did a bold thing in standing up to the Eurosceptic wave which has engulfed much of continental Europe’.
He also said the Lib Dems had ‘taken a kicking’ for being in government with the Tories and ‘having to take some extremely tough decisions in the national interest’.
He added: ‘But now is not the time for infighting and introspection.’
Senior figures including Lord Ashdown, party president Tim Farron and pensions minister Steve Webb also rallied around Mr Clegg.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage said he would be ‘very surprised’ if the Lib Dem leader remained in his post for the general election next May.
Farage hails win as an ‘earthquake’
A triumphant Farage pledged to take seats in Westminster after a historic win over the main parties in the European elections.
He hailed his party’s first win in a national election as an ‘earthquake’ in British politics and said: ‘Ukip is going to win seats in the elections next year.’
Ukip dominated the vote, winning 24 Euro seats, including one in Wales and its first representative in Scotland.
It was the first time in more than a century that a national election had not been won by either the Conservatives or Labour.
Mr Farage used a press conference to announce Ukip would be launching a manifesto in Ed Miliband’s Doncaster constituency to tackle the cost of living crisis. Its MEPs will be assigned policy briefs and Mr Farage will step back from the front line on some issues as he plans for next May’s general election.
‘We have already been doing substantial work on the NHS, on defence, on education, on public spending and other areas, and we will unveil our outline manifesto for the next general election, and
we will do it in a town called Doncaster,’ added Mr Farage.
David Cameron blamed ‘deep disillusionment’ with the EU for Ukip’s victory – but again dismissed as a ‘myth’ the prospect of any electoral pact with the party.
The prime minister claimed an all-out general election victory for the Conservatives was ‘achievable’ – despite winning just 19 seats and 24 per cent of the Euro vote – and they were the only way to guarantee an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
‘Conservative candidates will stand as Conservatives, fight as Conservatives and, I hope, win as Conservatives,’ he said.
Labour leader Ed Miliband insisted the party was ‘in a position where we can win the general election,’ despite disappointing results which saw candidates perform strongly in London but end up less
than two per cent ahead of the Conservatives with 20 MEPs.
Mr Miliband insisted his party was making ‘progress’ but rejected Mr Farage’s suggestion that Labour would now have to change its policy and guarantee an in-out referendum in the next parliament.
26 May 2014 | 10:30 pm – Source: metro.co.uk