Theresa May has been accused of "threatening" EU nationals who live in the United Kingdom with deportation.
The home secretary has been criticised by her Tory leadership rivals after she said the right of EU citizens to stay in Britain would be part of the Brexit "negotiation" with Brussels.
Tory MPs who campaigned on both sides of the referendum today lined up in the Commons to criticise May.
Labour's shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said the Conservative Party had "reduced our country to chaos and created uncertainty".
"The there million or so EU nationals living here are the fathers and mothers, aunties and uncles, grandmas and grandfathers of millions of British children," he told MPs.
Burnham, who is married to a Dutch national, told Home Office minister James Brokenshire: "Tell the home secretary my own kids would like their mum to stay here forever, if that is ok with her".
"People who have made a life here when it was perfectly legal to do so should not have the rug pulled from under them."
Speaking in the Commons on behalf of May, Brokenshire praised the "immense contribution" made to the UK by EU citizens. "There will be no immediate change in their status in the UK," he said. However he told MPs he was "not in position to make new policy announcements".
"The prime minister has been clear that decisions on issues relating to the UK's exit from the EU will be for a new prime minister," he said.
Brokenshire, like May, said the government would want to secure the right of British people living in the EU alongside the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.
And he said to guarantee the right of EU nationals to stay in the UK before the country left the EU could have the "unintended consequence" of encouraging immigration before any cut off point.
Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who campaigned for Brexit, said "people are not bargaining chips".
"It is deeply, deeply offensive to assume that this is a country that retrospectively changes the rights of it citizens," she said.
And Tory MP Ann Main, who also campaigned for Brexit, accused May of making a "catastrophic error of judgement".
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband said "the forced deportation of millions of EU citizens is something no sane or fair government would contemplate doing".
Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative chairman of the Commons Treasury committee, said the “only ethical position” the government could take would be to protect EU nationals to remain in the UK.
Crispin Blunt, the Conservative chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said it was “inconceivable” the UK would not allow EU citizens to stay.
Brunham accused May of "prioritising her own leadership campaign" over the issue of EU nationals. And he dismissed the claim the government needed assurances from Brussels over the presence of Britons in Europe in parallel. "This is entirely a matter for the UK government to decide," he said
The shadow home secretary said it was "quite threatening" for May to imply people did not live in the same place "forever".
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more