Theresa May has said she used the wrong language when she told business leaders her post-Brexit immigration plans would stop EU workers being able to "jump the queue".
The Prime Minister was heavily criticised for the remarks, made in a keynote speech to the CBI's conference in London last week, where she outlined plans to curb immigration after Brexit.
Mrs May told MPs she should "not have used that language" when she was asked about the speech by the SNP's Philippa Whitford.
Dr Whitford, speaking as the PM made a statement on Brexit, said: "Last week, the Prime Minister managed to insult and upset over three million European citizens who live and work in this country.
"Over 150,000 of them, like my German husband, a GP here for over 30 years, felt absolutely thrown away when they have spent decades here looking after us when we're ill.
"Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity perhaps to apologise for her thoughtless and insulting comments?"
'I should not have used that language'
Mrs May replied: "I should not have used that language in that speech. The point I was making was a simple one.
"Right from the very beginning I said that citizens' rights was a key issue that I wanted to see addressed in the Withdrawal Agreement.
"That was one of the things we put at the top as one of our priorities and we have delivered that in the Withdrawal Agreement for people."
She added: "I think there was a point that for the most people here in the United Kingdom, they want to see people coming to this country with the skills and wanting to make a contribution - her husband has made a contribution as a GP here in this country.
"They want people to be judged as we will on their skills and contribution to our economy, rather than simply on where they come from."
Mrs May told the conference last week: "The United Kingdom is a country that values the contribution that immigration has made to our society and economy over many years.
"And in the future, outside the EU, immigration will continue to make a positive contribution to our national life.
"But the difference will be this - once we have left the EU, we will be fully in control of who comes here.
"It will no longer be the case that EU nationals, regardless of the skills or experience they have to offer, can jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi."