The odds of Eurosceptic firebrand Nigel Farage returning to the frontline of British politics and becoming the leader of Ukip for the fourth time are "slim", a senior party source told IBTimes UK on Saturday 10 June.
The revelation pours cold water on hopes from Ukip members who want Farage to return to the helm after the party's poor performance at the general election.
Ukip won just under 600,000 votes and a 1.8% share of the vote, with Paul Nuttall quitting as leader just seven months after he succeeded Farage in November 2016.
"If I am remembered as the Ukip leader who kept the party on the pitch for the good times that lay ahead, that will be good enough for me," Nuttall said.
Steve Crowther, a former Ukip chairman, has been appointed as the party's interim leader and another leadership election is expected soon. A separate source praised Crowther as the "chairman that saw us secure four million votes [at the 2015 general election]".
Farage, who has concentrated on his media career since the Leave vote at the EU referendum, has previously vowed to make a return if the UK's split from Brussels was in jeopardy.
With the Conservatives failing to win a majority at the election and having to form an alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Prime Minister Theresa May is now limping into the two-year-long negotiations with her credibility severely damaged.
Farage, with May's position in mind, said he would think about making a leadership bid over the next seven days, The Daily Telegraph reported. Crowther, meanwhile, has urged May to deliver a Brexit and warned about "backsliding" on the split.
"Though she is personally damaged as our negotiator, the suggestion that May's dismal electoral performance relieves the government of the need to achieve full Brexit is absolutely unacceptable," he said.
"The people voted last year to leave the EU, full stop. May's incompetent electioneering makes not the slightest difference to that. If the Conservative-DUP government thinks it can backslide on this, it will rapidly find that it is mistaken.
"In particular, the DUP's concerns about the Irish border issue must not lead to an acceptance of any 'free movement of people' in the negotiation. The Common Travel Area provisions in place since the 1920s are a perfectly adequate basis for resolving that anomaly.
"The people of this country want control of their borders and an end to the disastrous policy of open-door immigration which has led to a rapidly-rising population, a funding crisis in health and education, pressure on housing and wages, and dangerous social alienation."
The interim leader added: "Ukip's phones are ringing off the hook. Rather than blotting us out, May has re-energised the party, and we will not be letting her or her successor wriggle out of their responsibilities".