A fresh wave of MPs are poised to break away from Labour over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, senior party sources have suggested, as the Leader of the Opposition was accused of presiding over a culture of “bullying, bigotry and intimidation”.

Labour insiders said a similar number to the seven, who quit the party on Monday morning to form the Independent Group in the Commons, was set to do so early next week; just days before MPs are to engage again in a key Brexit vote.

If this were to happen, then a second wave would be regarded as a concerted attempt to do maximum damage to Mr Corbyn’s leadership at a critical time for British politics.

The Herald:

Names mentioned at Westminster, who might resign next week, included former Labour leadership candidates Liz Kendall and Owen Smith; the latter only last week admitted he was considering his future as a Labour MP.

One party source told The Herald: “There will be more next week. Some people wanted to wait. It looks like the total number will be around about a dozen initially. If it does happen, then we’ll be in deep trouble.”

Another senior source, asked if he too believed there would be more resignations next week, replied: “Yes. A lot of people are very very unhappy.”

A third party insider said: “I understand there will be more to follow. If the new group can also recruit a small number of Tories to create a new party, then that would be interesting. If they can get to 36, then they’d take Ian Blackford’s slot at PMQs and would become a force; if they can’t, then they’ll struggle.”

He added that the one thing the new breakaway Independent Group lacked was a “big beast” in comparison to the last Labour breakaway group of the 1980s, the SDP, which had the likes of Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams and David Owen, all of whom had held senior Government roles.

Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, took to social media to admit his own fear that other Labour MPs might now follow the Group of Seven's lead.

“I confess I feared this day would come and I fear now that unless we change, we may see more days like this,” declared the Midlands MP.

In a message on Facebook, he called for a “kinder and gentler” Labour Party, saying in an astonishing admission: “I love this party but sometimes I no longer recognise it.”

Mr Watson pointed in particular to the resignation of Luciana Berger, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, who he described as one of Labour’s “most dedicated and courageous MPs” and who has been the subject of anti-Semitism from within the party’s ranks.

“If someone like Luciana no longer believes there is a role for her in the Labour Party, then many other colleagues will be asking themselves how can they stay.”

While the Group of Seven does not contain Scottish Labour MPs, it is known at least two - Martin Whitfield and Ian Murray – have become disillusioned by the swing to the Left, which Mr Corbyn has overseen since becoming leader in September 2015.

Mr Whitfield, who represents East Lothian, stressed he had at no time considered quitting the party, declaring he was “Labour through and through”. But he did say the leadership had to “engage more widely” across the whole of the party and not just a certain section of it.

Asked if he had considered resigning, Mr Murray replied: “My focus at the moment is on the issue of Brexit; that’s what I’m concentrating on and nothing else. We want the party to swing behind the democratic decision taken at conference.” Which was to keep open the option of a People’s Vote.

Talk of a Labour breakaway has echoed around Westminster for weeks but the news that something was finally afoot came in an email to journalists at 8.21am, which said a group of Labour MPs would “make a statement relating to the future of British politics”.

In a small room at London’s former County Hall near Westminster Bridge, journalists and cameramen squeezed in to hear a heavily pregnant Ms Berger announce the formation of the new group.

The Jewish backbencher, who has been branded a “disruptive Zionist” by an opponent within her local party, told the news conference she had come to the “sickening conclusion” Labour was now institutionally anti-Semitic.

She said: “I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation and look forward to a future serving with colleagues who respect each other and who are committed to working together for our great country.”

Chris Leslie, the former Shadow Chancellor, in an at times emotional address, bemoaned how Labour had been “hijacked by the machine politics of the Hard Left”.

He added: “The past three years have confirmed how irresponsible it would be to allow this Leader of the Opposition to take the office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.”

Chukka Umunna, the former Shadow Business Secretary, heavily tipped to become the leader of the new group, suggested voters were “sick and tired” of the status quo and in a plea to them said: "If you want an alternative, please help us build it. The bottom line is this: politics is broken, it doesn't have to be this way. Let's change it."

In response to the breakaway, Mr Corbyn said he was “disappointed” the MPs had felt unable to continue with Labour policies that had inspired millions at the last election and saw the party increase its vote by the largest share since 1945.

He added as the Tories bungled Brexit “now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all".

Richard Leonard, the Scottish Labour, also expressed disappointment at the split but insisted it would “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”.

However, his predecessor, Kezia Dugdale, struck a different tone, saying it was a “very sad day” for the party.

“We've got to warn against any idea that the leadership should say: 'Good riddance to them,'” adding: “I want to see a Labour Party that's a broad church; there's a vast amount of support for a People's Vote within that broad church."

Brandon Lewis, the Conservative Party Chairman, said Labour had become the “Jeremy Corbyn Party,” warning: “We must never let him do to our country what he is doing to the Labour Party.”

Mr Blackford for the SNP added: “If even his own MPs can’t trust Jeremy Corbyn, then why should the people of Scotland?

“Ultimately, this split will strengthen Theresa May and make it even more likely that the Tories stay in power through Brexit and beyond.”