Sunderland speaks and Theresa May listens! Could this be the shape of things to come?

Carlos Ghosn.
Carlos Ghosn.
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A mere 72 hours after Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn called out Theresa May over Brexit compensation, the Prime Minister has broken cover and set the exit timetable.

A happy coincidence or the shape of things to come? Sunderland can take some heart from the thought that it may well be the latter.

As the biggest player in the UK motor industry, Nissan Sunderland carries a fair amount of political clout.

On this evidence, it may carry more than we dared hope.

Like the rest of the nation, Nissan chiefs have been waiting to see how the Government will negotiate its separation from the EU.

Whatever deals are struck on export tariffs and the like, they will have huge implications for Nissan’s 7,000 workers and the 20,000 or so working in its supply chain.

But the fact that, three months since the UK voted to leave the EU, the government still hadn’t triggered Article 50 or even set a date, only served to infuriate. How can you negotiate an exit, if you won’t even begin the leaving process?

Nissan’s chief executive Mr Ghosn was the first to blink, warning on Thursday that he would rule out further investment in the company’s Sunderland plant until the government vowed to reimburse firms for the hit they could take from Brexit.

He was calling out the Government, and, in particular Theresa May. It was time to get the ball rolling.

By Sunday, May had set the timetable.

After 100 days of dithering, one warning from Nissan appears to have done the trick.

Sunderland has spoken and the government has listened.

Coincidence? We hope not.

The game afoot and Sunderland may well prove to be one of the key players … with Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn the star striker.