LONG the debate has raged, splitting a nation, dividing families and communities. Social media has been apoplectic. What is an Oxford comma and where, exactly, should you put it?

I can suggest a few options, dark places where Brexit should have remained. Why has this perturbation over punctuation reared its very ugly head again? Sadly, it’s yet another consequence of leaving the EU.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson decreed that the Royal Mint issue a celebratory Brexit 50p piece.

This is especially apt, since it won’t be long before a pound is worth just 50p.

But the big question surrounding the controversial coin … is it missing an Oxford comma?

Three million coins bearing the slogan “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” entered circulation on Friday, with Chancellor Sajid Javid expressing his hope that the commemorative coin will mark “the beginning of this new chapter”.

However, early reaction included author Philip Pullman’s criticism of its punctuation.

“The ‘Brexit’ 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma, and should be boycotted by all literate people,” tweeted the novelist, while Times Literary Supplement editor Stig Abell wrote that, while it was “not perhaps the only objection” to the Brexit-celebrating coin, “the lack of a comma after ‘prosperity’ is killing me”.

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

Grammarly editor Brittney Ross said: “Oxford commas are like the Ugg boots of the punctuation world. People either love them or hate them or don’t know what they are.”

According to the Collins Dictionary, the Oxford comma is a comma between the final items in a list, often preceding the word “and” or “or”, such as the final comma in the list “newspapers, magazines, and books”.

And in such circumstances, I – donning my slightly careworn Language Anorak – would suggest a comma is all wrong. Why? Well, it’s unnecessary and does not bring anything extra to enhance the reader’s understanding of the sentence.

Imagine that we’re only granted a finite number of punctuation marks to employ in our lifetime and we must use them wisely.

And there are, indeed, sentences in which you can deploy an Oxford comma with gay abandon since it is vital in bringing clarity.

For example, compare the following:

“I dedicate this column to the Brexiteers, Boris and Sajid.”

“I dedicate this column to the Brexiteers, Boris, and Sajid.”

So, as with many of the upshots of the Brexit debacle, there are many grey areas.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the souvenir coin. I have a special empire biscuit tin set aside in which to save them up. Once I’ve amassed £12, I’m going to buy one of the special Tory tea towels that went on sale last week.

The design incorporates an image of Johnson alongside a Union Jack and the slogan “Got Brexit Done”.

This commemorative dish rag will come in handy when we’re all washed up … and serve as reminder of who got us into hot water in the first place.