Nigel Farage has denied that Ukip is a "one-man band" after his surprise return as leader - just three days after resigning.

Mr Farage told ITV News that he felt like an "enormous burden" had been lifted when he quit on Friday after he failed to win a seat in South Thanet.

But he said he was persuaded to tear up his resignation letter yesterday after emotional pleas from Ukip's National Executive Committee (NEC) and party members.

"What it shows is not that Ukip is a one-man band, but that Ukip as a party is wholly united behind its leader," he told Nina Hossain.

"I was persuaded to tear up the letter which was quite a surprise to me."

Mr Farage said he had spent "nearly two decades" trying to win a referendum on Britain's EU membership and members had urged him not to walk away now with an in-out referendum on the horizon in 2017.

He rejected claims his resignation U-turn had damaged his reputation, saying his return was for the "good of Ukip" and the referendum campaign.

Mr Farage admitted the party's sole MP Douglas Carswell was "as taken aback" as he was by his return as leader.

Douglas Carswell, Ukip's only representative in the House of Commons. Credit: PA Wire

The Clacton MP's Twitter bio makes no mention of Ukip, but Mr Farage said he "didn't get the impression" that Mr Carswell was distancing himself from the party when he spoke to him yesterday.

Asked whether he was confident the party could keep hold of Carswell, Farage replied: "Yes I do believe that Douglas Carswell will sit as a Ukip MP and be viewed as a champion by four million people."

He said Ukip were needed more than ever to ensure a "fair debate" on Europe.

"The point of Ukip is to make sure we have the proper arguments and the proper debates and the chance of winning this referendum on fair rules."