A comet on an extremely eccentric orbit spends by far the greater part of its time in the uttermost parts of the solar system. This is because, according to Kepler's Laws, orbital speeds near aphelion are so much less than near perihelion.
Supposing, then, that space potentials in such regions are vastly greater, in the negative sense, than they are close to the sun, as the discharge hypothesis requires, any long-period comet could be expected to acquire local space potential quite readily during its long sojourn far from the sun. Quite possibly, too, its body materials would become electrically polarized in response to the buildup of charge on its surface. Consider next what would happen to this charged, electrically polarized body as its orbit brings it with ever increasing speed back toward the sun. By the time it reaches the orbit of Jupiter, solar-wind protons will have stripped away its superficial blanket of negative charge. No longer does its surface potential match that of its surroundings, yet its internal (radial) polarization produces an external electric field, just as polarization in an electret made of wax exhibits an external field here on earth. A space-charge sheath will begin to form to shield the interplanetary plasma from the comet's alien field. As the comet races toward the sun, its sheath takes the form of a long tail stretching away from the sun.
This happens, not because the electrified sun repels the tail material, but because voltage differences between the comet and the interplanetary plasma vary sharply with direction, and because sheath thicknesses are dictated not only by voltage differences, but by gas pressure as well. The potential difference between the head of the comet and the plasma in the direction of the sun might be substantial. But in any case, the potential difference between the comet and plasma farther out from the sun will be greater still. Also, the plasma density is greater nearer the sun than farther from the sun. Hence the sheath remains close to the comet on the sunward side, and it reaches perhaps millions of miles into space on the antisolar side.
This rather sketchy qualitative explanation for comet tails is not advanced here as any sort of final answer to the comet-tail mystery. I include it only as an example of the kind of explanation that can at least be discussed in the light of the discharge hypothesis. Hopefully, too, it offers a measure of solace to those who might feel cheated by the fact that the interplanetary plasma knocks down the idea that comet-tail gases might be repelled by the sun's electric charge.