Prime Minister Theresa May signalled on Tuesday that she would prefer a 'no-deal' Brexit to the offer currently put forward by the European Union, stressing that Britain needs to see counter-proposals from the EU to move Brexit negotiations forward.

‘I’ve always said no deal is better than a bad deal. I think a bad deal would be a deal that broke up the United Kingdom,’ May said when asked whether a no-deal Brexit was better than one similar to the existing Canada-EU trade deal.

Her spokesman said later that May was specifically referring to the type of deal the EU is currently offering on future trade, which Britain believes will split England, Wales and Scotland from Northern Ireland by insisting Northern Ireland adhere to different customs rules.

Her position also effectively rules out alternative Brexit proposals put forward by rebel eurosceptic members of her own party, which are based on a wide-ranging free trade agreement similar to that agreed between the EU and Canada.

Last week, May issued an angry edict to Brussels when a summit of EU leaders that had been billed as a chance to generate momentum towards a deal in October or November ended in a blunt dismissal of British proposals.

Speaking to reporters on her way to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, May said she welcomed a subsequent acknowledgement from European Council President Donald Tusk that the bloc still wanted to strike a deal.

‘I think what he’s clarified is that there is hope and expectation and desire for a deal on the side of the European Union,’ she said.

But May said the onus was still on the EU to break the deadlock on Chequers.

‘If they have concerns, they need to detail those concerns to us and if they have counter-proposals, let’s hear the counter proposals and then we can discuss those and take it forward,’ she said.