By Theo Leggett
Business correspondent, BBC News

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  • Brexit

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionJohan van Zyl said Brexit and Covid were a "double whammy" for Toyota

The boss of Toyota's European business has warned that a no-deal Brexit could make its UK plants uncompetitive.

Dr Johan van Zyl said such an outcome would create a "very negative investment environment" in Britain and be "very, very negative" for his business.

He told the BBC the combination of Brexit and the Covid crisis was a "double whammy" for the carmaker.

Toyota has two plants in the UK, which employ about 3,000 people in total.

But Mr van Zyl said no decisions on the future of its UK plants – a car factory at Burnaston in Derbyshire and an engine facility at Deeside in North Wales – could be taken until the outcome of trade talks was known.

Like other manufacturers, Toyota has been badly affected by the Covid outbreak. Both its UK plants were forced to suspend production during the spring lockdown, while showrooms were also forced to close.

Now the company is forecasting a strong recovery for its European business. But according to Dr van Zyl, its UK recovery could be made more difficult by Brexit.

"We have Brexit, and we have Covid, and this is a double whammy which is happening to us", he said during an online media event.

"When it comes to the recovery… it's going to be more difficult if Brexit of course is negative, or a hard Brexit".

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The company has, he said, already taken steps to mitigate the impact of a no-deal scenario – but there is a limit to what it can do.