Campaigners admit Big Ben won't bong for Brexit as author calls for boycott of new 50p over punctuation 'error'

Campaigners have admitted Big Ben won't bong to mark Brexit and a commemorative 50p to mark the occasion is facing a boycott over its punctuation.

Despite raising £272,770 for the Big Ben must bong for Brexit campaign, those behind the funding drive admitted defeat after failing to convince House of Commons authorities to allow the bell to ring.

Funds raised will now be donated to the Help for Heroes military charity.

But supporters of leaving the EU will still be able to celebrate on January 31 by collecting the new Brexit 50p - only if they're happy to disregard its missing Oxford comma.

One person not willing is author Sir Philip Pullman, who has called for a boycott of the coin over its punctuation.

The coin, which enters circulation on January 31, reads: "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations."

An Oxford comma is used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items, so would be placed after the word "prosperity".

His Dark Materials author Sir Philip wrote on Twitter that the omission meant the coin should "be boycotted by all literate people".

The Brexit 50p is missing an 'Oxford comma'. Credit: PA

However user @TychoNestoris1 replied: "Be gone with your American serial comma nonsense!"

Also known as a serial comma, the punctuation mark derives its common name from its use in by the Oxford University Press (OUP).

On its use, the OUP's style guide states: "In a list of three or more items, insert a comma before the 'and' or 'or'."

About three million Brexit coins will enter circulation around the UK from Friday, with a further seven million to be added later in the year.

Big Ben however will not bong until 2021, as restoration works are completed.

More than 14,000 Brexit supporters chipped into the fund to have it sound for Brexit after Boris Johnson suggested "we are working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong".

However, there was no such plan and the House of Commons Commission estimated the cost of using the out-of-action bell could be as much as £500,000.

Government funding for the idea was ruled out after a meeting of the House of Commons Commission decided the cost of "£50,000 a bong" was too much.

But Tory MP Mark Francois disagreed and, alongside group Stand Up 4 Brexit, set up the 'Big Ben must bong for Brexit campaign'.

The funding drive was cancelled at noon on Monday.

The campaign to have Big Ben bong for Brexit was unsuccessful. Credit:

"The response from the British people has been fantastic and we are deeply grateful to everyone who donated," former minister Mr Francois said.

"However, having made final attempts over the last several days to persuade the House of Commons authorities that Big Ben should chime, we regret to report that we have been unsuccessful and therefore we feel we can no longer ask people to donate.

"We officially closed the fund at noon today."

He added that "even though Big Ben will regrettably not chime for Brexit" many people "will be celebrating the fact that we become a free country again" at 11pm on January 31.

That was "the greatest prize of all", he said.

The famous bell was temporarily silenced in 2017 for the safety of workers involved in a four-year restoration scheme of the Elizabeth Tower.

GoFundMe said in terms of cash raised, the campaign was one of the most successful ever run in the UK.