THE tension in the House of Commons in the last 72 hours has provided for some extremely notable speeches, principally from Sir Nicholas Soames and Kenneth Clarke, and some extraordinary outbursts.

Lipreaders spotted Prime Minister Boris Johnson shouting amid the hubbub at Jeremy Corbyn: “Call an election, you great big girl’s blouse.”

This is an extraordinary phrase for an old Etonian to use as it apparently comes from a Lancashire sitcom, Nearest and Dearest.

Nearest and Dearest was first shown by ITV in 1969, and it featured Hylda Baker, a wartime musichall comedienne, playing Nellie Pledge. She ran the family pickled onion business with her brother Eli, but brother and sister fought like cat and dog, constantly bickering and exchanging northern insults.

For instance, Eli called Nellie a "knocked-kneed knackered old nosebag" and Neliie replied by calling Eli a "big girl's blouse". Hysterical.

The scriptwriter was John Stevenson, who went on to write for Coronation Street, and it is not clear whether “big girl’s blouse” was his line or one Hylda, whose main stage character was a northern female gossip, had been using it in her act.

Its success is not that it is profoundly clever or devastatingly rude. It is that it just sounds comic in a way that “small boy’s pants” doesn’t. Mr Johnson has been accused of sexism for using it, and it clearly features in his wide-ranging vocabulary – he used it to describe Gordon Brown in 2007.

If “big girl’s blouse” doesn’t have a long history, another word that suddenly became regularly employed this week does. As Mr Johnson appeared desperate to block the no-deal Bill, on-side Tories in the House of Lords suddenly tabled more than 90 amendments to it. It seemed they were going to “filibuster” it – keep on talking and talking until it ran out of time due to the prorogation of Parliament and so failed.

All the news channels were full of talk about a possible filibuster.

Filibuster begins as a nautical word in 17th Century Dutch, “vrijbuiter”, which meant a plunderer or robber, a freebooter. A vrijbuiter was a privateer, a lawless pirate who sailed the seven seas looking for trouble and booty, attacking other ships or launching terrifying hit-and-sail attacks on colonies in the West Indies.

The word spread into French – filbustier – and then Spanish – filibustero. By the 19th Century, filibusters were sailing from the US to Cuba, Mexico and Nicaragua to engage in unauthorised warfare, encourage revolution and capitalise on whatever they could get their hands.

In 1841, the US House of Representatives imposed a limit of an hour on all speeches, but the Senate did not as it didn’t want to clamp down on free speech, so senators could legitimately talk so much about a proposal they disliked that the session closed without any decision being reached. At first this was called stonewalling, but then in the 1850s, it became known as filibustering – an individual waging unauthorised war against the Bill.

In the US, the record for a filibuster is held by South Carolina's J Strom Thurmond who filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act in 1957.

Mysteriously, early yesterday morning, the Conservative leader in the Lords ordered that the no-deal Brexit Bill should be passed by Friday, thus stopping individual lords from filibustering – the big girls’ blouses.