The UK will not be represented on the bench of the United Nations’ International Court of Justice for the first time in its 71-year history.

UK candidate Sir Christopher Greenwood QC accepted defeat moments before an 11th round of voting was due to take place. His stepping aside means Indian Dalveer Bhandari takes up the spot.

The ICJ, the principal legal body of the UN, is composed of 15 judges who serve nine-year terms. They are elected by the UN’s general assembly and security councils.

To win a place on the bench, a majority is required in both.

In the last round of voting Greenwood secured nine votes in the security council against the Indian’s five - but managed only 68 votes in the general assembly against Bhandari’s 121 votes.

The government had hoped Greenwood would be elected for a second term and refused to confirm reports that Prime Minister Theresa May had been involved in the lobbying for Greenwood .

The ICJ, based at The Hague, hears disputes over sovereignty and international borders from around the globe. Greenwood had already served one nine-year term as a judge.

In a letter, Matthew Rycroft, the UK’s permanent representative at the UN, said the deadlock is ‘unlikely to be broken’ by further rounds of voting.

‘We have therefore consulted our candidate, Sir Christopher Greenwood, who has confirmed that his candidature for re-election to the international court of justice should be withdrawn,’ he added.

Law Society Council member and former secretary general of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe Jonathan Goldsmith, commented:  'Tempting as it is to want to blame Brexit and Boris Johnson, this is more likely to be a symptom of the rise of the east, striking against the old world order.'