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Media captionUKIP's Paul Nuttall: "I am standing down with immediate effect"

UKIP's Paul Nuttall has stood down as leader of the party after it failed to win any seats in the general election.

He has resigned with immediate effect and it was announced former party chairman Steve Crowther would lead UKIP on an interim basis.

Mr Nuttall took 3,308 votes in Boston and Skegness - more than 10,000 fewer votes than the party's result in 2015.

He said it was clear "UKIP requires a new focus and new ideas" but was confident it had a "great future".

Since resigning as leader he has deleted his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Mr Nuttall said the party was more relevant than ever and would continue to be "the guard dogs of Brexit".

"The prime minister, and I suspect it will be a Tory, must know that if they begin to backtrack or barter things away then they must know they will be punished at the ballot box and that will only happen if UKIP is electorally viable and strong.

"We are in effect the country's insurance policy on Brexit," he said.

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UKIP saw its popularity collapse in the election after securing only 593,852 votes - down from 3,881,099 in 2015.

Mr Nuttall said after the election of a new leader, the party needed to relaunch and rebrand itself and required a new focus, new ideas and a renewed energy.

"I say to members: keep the faith, politics will come back onto our turf and we have to be organised and ready to take full advantage when it does," he said.

"To the voters I say: UKIP is still here and UKIP is not going away."

The party announced Mr Crowther had "overwhelmingly" been chosen by the national executive committee (NEC). He resigned as UKIP chairman in July 2016 but stood as a candidate in North Devon in the election.

UKIP chairman Paul Oakden said: "Conversations have taken place within the NEC to establish who is best placed to offer that stability in the very short term".

He added: "Steve has a solid relationship with the NEC, both former leaders and our biggest donors. He has seen this situation before and will know how best to navigate through these tumultuous weeks. Knowing that Steve came top in the last NEC elections by a clear margin, also gives us confidence that he has the support of our membership."

Job swap

Mr Nuttall took over from Nigel Farage as leader of UKIP last November.

Asked about a future role for Mr Farage in the party, Mr Nuttall said: "If Nigel Farage wants to come back, I would be more than happy to do a job swap.

"I'll take his slot on LBC (radio station) and he can come back as leader of UKIP."

Mr Nuttall, a former history lecturer, joined UKIP in 2004 after running for the Conservatives in a council election in Bootle two years earlier.

He became an MEP for North West England in 2009 and served as UKIP deputy leader from 2010 until September last year.

After Mr Farage resigned as UKIP leader following the Brexit referendum in July, Mr Nuttall ruled himself out of taking over.

But when Diane James quit after just 18 days in the job, he put himself forward and was elected with 62% of the vote.

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Mr Nuttall's resignation came shortly before UKIP's general secretary, Jonathan Arnott, also announced he would be resigning.

'Wake-up call'

In a departing statement, he said the party had "lost its way in recent times" and he "profoundly disagreed" with UKIP's election campaign.

He attacked the party's "clumsy, blundering approach" to tackling female genital mutilation and its "hardline anti-Islam messages".

"The people pushing such an agenda need to reflect on the party's future. They need to stop making it difficult - impossible, even - for many people to vote UKIP," he said.

"This election result is the last wake-up call that they will ever get."

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Mr Oakden paid tribute to Mr Nuttall's leadership over "difficult months" for the party.

He said: "I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to Paul Nuttall for having had the courage and strength of will to forge on.

"Paul is a good, decent and humble man and I've no doubt that he will be remembered as the person who kept UKIP alive when everything seemed determined to bring it to an end."