THERE is only one word for it - baffling.

On Friday MPs (finally) honoured the referendum, and set off the process for the UK to leave the European Union.

What was voted for by a majority in a referendum held on a summer's day in 2016, got a majority in parliament just before Christmas 2019.

I have major issues with the withdrawal deal - remember it is basically the same as Theresa May's, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson once voted against. But regardless Brexit has begun and come February we move into the transition period.

And I have no problem with that as, I stress, I am a Brexiteer (despite constantly getting comments telling me I'm a 'remoaner').

But the key is securing a beneficially Brexit and a sensible one with a close enough relationship with the EU that does not risk job losses and a hit to the economy.

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So I was staggered to hear the PM was including in the bill that the transition period can not be extended, and we are guaranteed to leave, deal or no deal, at the end of 2020.

In one move the PM has made it 90 per cent certain there will be a damaging no deal Brexit from January 2021, triggering a likely recession.

Why? Because the idea a free trade agreement with the EU can be negotiated in just 11 months is a fantasy.

It is too short period, and it seems certain time for negotiations will simply run out.

That isn't being pessimistic it is being realistic when you look at the history of trade deals between countries (spoiler: most take years).

Remember the PM, presumably advised by Dominic Cummings, simply didn't need to do this baffling move.

Leave voters were not happy stage one wasn't 'getting done', and could see a risk of Brexit being cancelled by remainers. With that risk gone we now reach the difficult bit - the negotiations for the future relationship - and there was no need for them to be put on any strict deadline.

The PM has made this move to apparently 'focus minds to ensure successful negotiations', but it is a strategy doomed to fail.

What is to stop the EU saying "these are the terms take it or leave it", next autumn?

The EU doesn't want a no deal Brexit but they are prepared for it and know it damages Britain more than them.

All I can hope is I'm proved wrong, or the PM quickly does a U-turn.