BREXIT could leave the UK “critically short" of workers, a study claims today, with referendum uncertainty already hitting Scottish job prospects.

As bookies shortened their odds on a vote to leave the EU on June 23 and market jitters about Brexit caused stocks to fall further, another poll put the campaign to quit the Brussels bloc ahead.

An ICM snapshot showed Vote Leave taking a six-point lead, 53 per cent to 47, once don’t knows were excluded. This followed a poll on Friday that gave the Brexit camp a 10-point lead.

Read more: New poll gives Brexit campaign a 10-point lead as Scots seem to want to Remain

Employment group Manpower issued its warning about a critical shortage of workers based on the impact on British industry if EU workers were no longer able to move freely to this country due to migration restrictions.

Its report said leaving the EU would be particularly damaging for top construction firms, which traditionally relied on European workers; they have been warning for months of skills shortages.

A survey of 2,100 employers showed the biggest fall in retail optimism in five years, prompted by the recent launch of the national living wage.

The Herald:

"Britain added 404,000 jobs in the last 12 months alone and despite the uncertainties of Brexit, employers tell us they still need more workers,” said James Hick, Manpower's managing director.

"Make no mistake about the vital contribution EU workers make to Britain. There are currently 2.2 million people from the EU working in the UK but not all of them will stay here in the long term and we need the opportunity to replace the skills they bring.”

He described Britain as a magnet for international talent and that Brexit would make it much more difficult to attract the brightest and the best, adding: “To compete on the world stage British businesses need the flexibility and free movement that EU membership brings."

Read more: This is an ex-project - John Cleese blasts EU and backs Brexit

In Scotland, the outlook was +3 per cent, which means the nation still continues to lag behind the UK average of +5 per cent.

“Scotland continues to underperform the UK’s average rate of hiring intentions”, said Amanda White, operations manager at Manpower. “We have seen a dip this quarter, which we partly attribute to renewed employer caution around Brexit uncertainty.”

Meantime, leading Brexiters, including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, today pledged that every region, group and recipient of EU funding would continue to get the money up until 2020 following a vote to leave.

The Herald:

In an open letter, the signatories, who include 13 ministers and senior Tories, sought to assure those, who currently receive money from Brussels, that their funding was “safe if we Vote Leave”.

The letter says: “After protecting those now in receipt of EU funding, we will still have billions more to spend on our priorities. We propose that at least £5.5 billion of that be spent on the NHS by 2020, giving it a much-needed £100 million per week cash transfusion, and to use £1.7bn to abolish VAT on household energy bills.”

In a separate development, Mr Gove clashed with Nicola Sturgeon after the UK Justice Secretary suggested Brexit would lead to Holyrood having more powers over immigration. But the First Minister dismissed the assertion, saying it was a “fib and a half".

Read more: Snap independence poll after Brexit vote undesirable, Humza Yousaf

Today, as David Cameron is due to sit across the cabinet table with leading Brexiters like Mr Gove, Labour will put on a conspicuous show of unity with Jeremy Corbyn addressing his shadow cabinet as well as trade union chiefs, calling on the whole Labour movement to back the Remain campaign.

Speaking at the TUC’s HQ in London, the Labour leader will note how “we have just nine days to go to convince Labour supporters to vote Remain”.

Yesterday, Gordon Brown, as he did in the last days of the Scottish independence referendum, took to the campaign trail to argue the In-Out battle was not about change versus the status quo but rather that Remain was itself for change in seeking to improve workers’ conditions and increase their job prospects.

The EU single market, argued the former Labour prime minister, was set to be "the biggest job creator of the next 10 years" with the potential for 500,000 more high-quality jobs from opening up markets in Europe.

But Mr Johnson for Vote Leave suggested using Mr Brown to relaunch the Remain campaign showed the “panic they're in”.

Elsewhere, chancellor George Osborne warned of potential cuts to disability benefits as he said Brexit would leave the country poorer and with more difficulty to afford public services but Vote Leave dismissed the warning, saying Remain was now a "stumbling campaign[which] seems to have been reduced to a series of threats".