In case you're wondering, the story that appeared on the Courier website last night about the draft indyref bill is a monumental red herring. Basically the claim was that the Scottish Government wouldn't even be able to table the bill at Holyrood without London's "permission", because the Presiding Officer might not certify it as being within the parliament's powers. But it doesn't actually matter whether that's true or not, because the introduction to the draft bill states this -
"If the Scottish Government decided to formally introduce this Bill to Parliament, it would be expected that a section 30 order would be sought and agreed, as in 2014."
The most reasonable interpretation of those words is that a section 30 order would be sought and agreed before the bill is formally introduced. No parliamentary vote is required for the Scottish Government to simply pick up the phone to London, but as there have been speculative (and utterly hopeless) mutterings about a "lack of mandate", the likelihood is that a symbolic vote would be held to put beyond any dispute that a referendum is the will of the directly-elected Scottish Parliament. In contrast to the rules on legislation, it is possible for Holyrood to debate and vote on motions relating to absolutely any subject, even one that has nothing whatever to do with the parliament's current powers. Previous examples include the Iraq War, unilateral nuclear disarmament, and the principle of independence.
It's also not the case, as our resident troll Aldo tried to claim yesterday, that the draft bill "reveals" that Westminster's permission is "required" for any independence referendum to take place. Quite the reverse, in fact. The bill notes that the purpose of the section 30 order last time around was simply to "put it beyond doubt" that the parliament had the right to legislate. The clear implication is that even if the London government were stupid enough to try to stand in the way, it might well still be possible to hold a consultative referendum without a section 30 order - albeit the question would probably have to be very carefully framed. The legal expert Professor Robert Black has stated that this would be a viable option.
If all else fails, of course, there's still the nuclear option that we've discussed a few times on this blog - the Scottish Government could resign and trigger an early Scottish Parliament election. That election would have one of two functions - either a) to gain a "double mandate" for a referendum just to ram it down Theresa May's throat that the mandate exists whether she likes it or not, or b) to gain an outright mandate for independence itself. The latter would be achieved by the SNP (and probably also the Greens) putting the necessary wording in their manifesto.