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Warm words but no meeting of minds

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn. Credit: PA

For all the warm words issued by both Theresa May and the Nissan Chief Executive after their meeting today, nowhere will you find Nissan removing its threat to suspend investment at its Sunderland plant.

Nissan's giant site in the North East of England employs around 7,000 workers.

The firm announced last month it would put investment there on hold unless the Prime Minister promised to reimburse Nissan should it have to start paying export tariffs on cars after the UK leaves the EU.

So today, chief executive Carlos Ghosn arrived in Downing Street (in a Sunderland-built Nissan Qashqai) for his first meeting with the Prime Minister.

He would not answer questions as he left Number 10 - despite our many attempts to throw questions to him - and drove away after a quick wave.

Later Nissan issued a statement talking about 'clear dialogue' and 'positive collaboration' but nowhere did he remove his threat to suspend investment.

Mr Ghosn said he wanted to ensure the factory 'remains competitive globally' which rather suggested Nissan thinks would not be if the cars built for export were subject to new tariffs.

80% of the cars built in Sunderland are exported - and the firm is worried about the impact on business if the UK exits the single market and customs union.

Theresa May said that she was committed to 'supporting the right conditions for the automotive industry to go from strength to strength in the UK'.

This was clearly not a meeting of minds and Theresa May was unable to give the reassurances Nissan was looking for about the future of its Sunderland plant.