Theresa May spoke of the “quiet revolution” and her Brexit plan, but does Sunderland feature in it?
For the sake of 7,000 Nissan workers and the tens of thousands toiling away in associated industries, it must.
The Prime Minister’s rallying call to the nation at the Conservative Party conference, however, gave little away on their future.
Unlike Jaguar Land Rover in Birmingham, Nissan Sunderland was not name-checked in May’s address. Perhaps it pays to keep quiet.
Those in power don’t like the boat being rocked. And Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn had been rocking more than most with his call for compensation if his company was to face export tariffs after Brexit.
In short, he wouldn’t be investing in Sunderland, until assurances were given. Not surprisingly, she didn’t bring it up in front of the Tory faithful.
The PM did, however, acknowledge the importance of the nation’s car industry. A sector she described as being “of strategic importance to our economy.”
Had a bone been thrown Sunderland’s way? Her next utterance, suggested it just might have.
She vowed to “do everything we can to encourage, develop and support” those industries. Everything?
Nissan has outlined what support is needed to keep their business and their workers happy, but there was no detail forthcoming from the Prime Minister.
“It is, of course, too early to say exactly what agreement we will reach with the EU,” she said unhelpfully. Adding that there will be no running commentary on the deals to be struck.
The “quiet revolution” she talked about clearly extends to her own party.
She needs to take care. The car industry she lauds, is being led by Sunderland. She is the Prime Minister on the back of cities, like Sunderland, who voted to leave the EU. She may not like it, but she owes us.
Theresa May can hold her counsel on EU negotiations, but on job security and economic prosperity she’ll find Sunderland will not go quietly.