Speaking on Spiked’s Brendan O’Neill Show on Monday, he said: “I can’t quite bring myself to call it the Windsor Framework, because all they’ve done is renamed the protocol.”
“Although it is sold as a change to the way things work in Northern Ireland, actually it is the same old framework. It is the protocol, very slightly amended, applied in a slightly softer fashion.”
The Windsor Framework was introduced on February 28. Rishi Sunak has said his “decisive breakthrough” on post-Brexit rules will remove trade barriers for Northern Ireland and give the UK a “veto” on EU law as he seeks the backing of unionists.
The DUP had been engaged in an ongoing protest of the existing Protocol, and as a result had refused to form an Executive after the Assembly elections in May.
The party has since said it needs time to consider the new deal before it decides whether it is able to go back into government.
“I think the DUP and Unionism more broadly in Northern Ireland have got a difficult problem now. Because I imagine everybody is a bit conflicted,” said Lord Frost.
“Everybody will now be telling them, ‘You must go back to Stormont, we must get the show on the road again’, and undoubtedly there are people in Unionism who think that. I think a lot may now hinge on whether the deal does anything like what it says on the tin.
“If there is a worry that the customs border in the Irish Sea will still turn out to be a meaningful thing, which I think it might, and that the Stormont Brake is really going to be unusable other than in extreme, political-crisis circumstances, then I think they’ll have qualms,” Lord Frost added.
The new agreement introduced the ‘Stormont brake’, which will allow the NI Assembly to stop new EU single market rules applying in Northern Ireland.
Lord Frost spoke of concerns about the use of the brake.
“The other thing that I’ve not seen commented on much is what would happen if Northern Ireland did use this brake a lot,” he said.
“What would happen is that you would have three regulatory systems developing. You’d have the EU set of standards, you’d have the UK’s (hopefully diverged) set of standards, and then you’d have Northern Ireland’s standards, which would be the old EU ones with some stuff taken out.
“I don’t see how that helps Northern Ireland to develop its own system of standards.”
Lord Frost said this would lead to “tremendous pressure” for politicians to avoid using the brake.
Meanwhile, the DUP said on Monday that it intends to create an eight member panel to gauge opinions on the Windsor Framework.“
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said members – including former party leaders Dame Arlene Foster and Peter Robinson – will report back by the end of this month.
He said their findings will inform the party’s decision making process and denied the move is intended as a delay tactic.