Last month Home Secretary Priti Patel sought to shift the blame on her French counterparts, telling the Commons Home Affairs Committee the “unacceptable” number of people making the perilous trip in small boats.
Immigration Compliance Minister Chris Philp on Saturday called on France to be stronger in intercepting ships at sea and directing the return of boats trying to get to the UK.
At least 202 migrants made it to Britain on Thursday in a wave of 20 boats, a single-day record.
Asked about his hope that the Home Office would be able to strike a new deal with France, Mr Smith said: “I wouldn’t call him to find out whether or not they can make the breakthrough.
“All I would say is we did it before and the numbers were much higher then.
“I think there are potential opportunities, but there will have to be some sort of quid pro quo that will satisfy the French that this was a measure that was designed to help both sides, not just a one-way street where the UK is essentially able to block anyone coming from France. ”
He said the current approach puts people’s lives at risk and “feeds contraband supply chains”.
The number of migrants on board small boats intercepted by border forces on Friday fell to 96, but Mr Smith said if the daily numbers were to continue in the hundreds “you are going to start hitting the numbers which were in fact almost a crisis. . 20 years ago “.
He added: “I’m afraid if we can’t get a new deal with the French on returns, we won’t be able to stop this and we might see numbers of the magnitude we’ve seen in years past. by. “