THE seven MPs who quit Labour did so because they were at their “wits’ end” with Jeremy Corbyn's leadership , the former leader of Scottish Labour has said.

Kezia Dugdale, who opposed Mr Corbyn becoming leader, said she was “very sad” at the split and urged the leadership to respond with “understanding”, not revenge.

“I would warn any against suggestion that we should be waving good riddance,” she said.

However Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard took a thinly-veiled swipe at the quitters, suggesting they were helping to let the Tories “off the hook”.

He added: "It is time to come together for the future, not divide."

The seven MPs resigned to sit as Independents in the Commons citing Mr Corbyn’s failure to oppose Brexit and tackle anti-Semitism.

Luciana Berger, the Jewish MP for Liverpool Wavertree, said the party was “institutionally anti-Semitic” under Mr Corbyn, with a culture of “bullying” and “bigotry”.

READ MORE: Labour MPs split party in Corbyn leadership protest

Speaking after a campaign event for the People’s Vote in Edinburgh, Ms Dugdale said: “What I see is seven individuals at their wits’ end, all with their individual reasons as to why they’re leaving.

“I know that they’ll all be doing it with a great sense of sadness and regret.

“When you hear someone like Luciana Berger talk about anti-Semitism in the party you can’t help but be sad about the experience that she’s had and it’s deeply regrettable.

“I want to see people joining the Labour party. I want it to be a broad church.”

Asked how the leadership should respond, she said: “With a soft tone, an understanding tone, a recognition of the multitude of reasons as to why people are saying what they’re saying this morning. I have no idea what’s going to happen. All I want to see is a Labour party that is a broad church.”

The Lothians list MSP, who quit after two years Scottish leader in 2017, flatly ruled out any similar split in the Labour group at Holyrood.

READ MORE: Kezia Dugdale: I quit as Scottish Labour leader over Corbyn's Brexit stance

Her fellow Labour MSP for the Lothians Neil Findlay, who was Mr Crobyn’s Scottish campaign manager, said Labour voters would not forgive the quitters.

He tweeted: “It is very disappointing to see 7 Labour MPs repeat the mistake of the SDP and shore up the Tories - this will be looked on very badly by Labour voters.”

Mr Leonard said: "I am of course disappointed that these MPs have decided to leave the Labour party but today’s events will not deter us from our mission of working to achieve real and lasting change here in Scotland, and as part of the wider effort to change the UK.

"Today’s events will simply mean that we will all redouble our efforts to achieve a better and more equal society based on those lasting values. The manifesto all Labour MPs stood on in the 2017 general election was and remains a unifying vision.

“It saw the party make advances, including starting to win back seats in Scotland.

"When young people are fighting for action on climate change, it is time to come together for the future, not divide. The Tory party’s failed solutions represent a dead end.

“We must do nothing to let them off the hook.”

Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, suggested her party would be willing to work with the new group.

Asked if the LibDems might merge with the former Labour MPs, she did not rule it out.

She said: “It’s very days. I recognise it must have been an incredibly difficult decision for people who have been in any political party for decades to walk away, and to take the decision to move on. That has to be recognised.

“And going forward, if we she share common ideals, we will find a way to work with them.

“What that will be is far too early to say, but we do welcome working with anyone who shares our ideals and our principles, whether they’re in a new party or the Labour party.

“At the moment, we just have to wait and see where this is going.”

READ MORE: Scottish Labour at war: Kezia Dugdale faction turn on Richard Leonard over Brexit

Ian Murray, the anti-Corbyn Labour MP for Edinburgh South, added: “It is a sad day for the Labour Party and for me personally. We have lost the talent and expertise of seven MPs who represent everything our movement should stand for and who are personal friends.

“The current Labour leadership is breaking the broad church that this party once built its electoral success upon – a broad church which delivered Labour governments that lifted millions and millions of people out of poverty.

“The challenge now is for Jeremy Corbyn to listen and learn, and decide if he wants to keep the Labour Party together or if he will continue to foster a culture of bullying and intolerance where his own MPs feel unwelcome and are being forced out.”