The word liberal being so abused as to make near no sense in this from Giles Fraser:
The EU debate, now breaking out all over Europe, has flushed out the extent to which the so-called left, now overrun by liberalism, has largely abandoned this historical position. In this country, the liberal left now believes that support for the single market and economic free trade is the very thing that distinguishes them from a so-called hard Tory Brexit. This is an astonishing change of position. It used to be obvious to democratic socialists that the terms of international trade should be set not by the market alone but also by democratically elected governments subject to the will of their electorates. But the liberal left, perhaps not trusting how ordinary people (as opposed to more enlightened economic “experts”) might vote, thinks that trade should be free of the irritating interventions of democratic accountability. They want it to be frictionless – an irritating euphemism that ultimately means: not subject to will of the people.
The liberal project, from its inception (whether you want to start that with Smith, or Hume earlier, or Cobden later) has always been most insistent on the subject of trade.
It isn't nations that trade with nations, it isn't political entities which trade with political entities. It is individuals and associations of individuals - perhaps companies, perhaps cooperatives, but just groups of people - who then trade with individuals and associations of individuals.
Thus who should be able to trade, and how, with whom, is something to be left to individuals and associations of individuals. It is precisely by it being the people who trade who decide what and how to trade that trade is subject to the will of the people.
Instead of being run through the nation state, the thing which does not trade, and thereby be subject to hijacking in favour of special interests.
Perhaps not many people would be interested in Norwegian beef. But it's not the voice of the people that has placed a 344% import tariff upon it, is it? It's the concentrated interest of Europe's farmers that has led to that, and the 200% on such from Morocco, the 80% from Colombia.
The point of free trade is precisely that it is liberal, that it is the expression of the voice of the people.
But then in this diminished modern age we have rather fallen, haven't we? Time was when it was Bishops of the Church of England who mangled morality on our behalf, now we have to make do with mere Canons. Eheu fugaces, where is Spacely-Trellis these days?