Even to a nation punch-drunk on big scary numbers, the latest figures on government borrowing represent an eye-wateringly painful poke-in-the-eye.

According to the latest stats, the UK government borrowed a shade under £9 billion last month – the highest February figure since records began in 1993.

That took public sector new borrowing (PSNB) for the current financial year to a frightening £75 billion – with more than a month still to go.

Already Alistair Darling’s November projection of £77.6 billion for the whole year – frightening enough at the tine – is looking hopelessly optimistic.

Whichever way you slice and dice it the UK is an awful financial mess, and it can surely only get worse over the next years – especially if the government’s optimistic economic scenario fails to materialise.

One economist forecaster now predicts public borrowing for the current year to top £90 billion, while another forecasts the total to swell towards £200 billion next year.

‘Dreadful’ remarks one seasoned observer; ‘bleak’ says another.

Philip Shaw of Investec says the numbers are of ‘great concern’ and are – over a medium to long-term basis – ‘unsustainable’.

Assuming that such deficits are unsustainable – and history tells us they invariable are – we are then faced with the question of what to do about it.

Slash public expenditure, perhaps, when the economy has turned and everything is rosy in England’s glorious garden once more?

But if so what, and where?

Raise taxes on the wealthy perhaps, to bring in more revenue to pay for the spending splurge? 

Raise duties across the board and ask all to pay for it – perhaps even slyly put a few percentage points on VAT and hope the masses don’t notice that it’s a highly regressive tax?

A mixture of all of these, perhaps? 

Or are we perhaps hurtling towards the point of no return, where our finances are so royally screwed that we just can’t mend them whatever we do – at least without begging our international neighbours for help a la 1976, by properly admitting we’re broke and starting all over again?

Thoughts please.