Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband says the north east is better off in Europe.
The one-time South Shields MP made his comments during a speech at Sunderland’s National Glass Centre on Sunday, insisting the north east is both safer and stronger under EU membership.
Mr Miliband - who labelled Vote Leave "Project Fantasy" - told an audience that jobs and investment for the region depend on the UK’s membership of the world’s largest trading bloc.
He said: "The European Union has been a massive part of the economic regeneration of the North East over the last 30 years.
"Its biggest employers, like Nissan and Hitachi, are here because there are fantastic workers in the North East but also because of the unique benefit of access to the European single market, which consists of 500 million people.
"More than 100,000 jobs in the North East depend on trade with European countries. For every £1 we put into the European Union, we get £10 back in jobs, trade, investment
"To people who say the Remain campaign is ‘Project Fear’, I say that the Leave campaign is 'Project Fantasy'.
"It’s a fantasy that we’re going to renegotiate our own trade agreements with the US, that we can lead climate change negotiations, that we’ll have the guaranteed four weeks’ holiday pay arranged for all European workers, should we vote to leave.
"It is no accident that we have investors who want to invest in the North East and a fundamental reason, frankly, is that we are part of the European Union. It stands to reason that it is access to the world’s largest, richest single market that makes the North East attractive to Japanese, German and other foreign investors.
"You don’t need me to say it, Barack Obama has told you that we will be at the back of the queue if we leave the EU. If you think about it for a moment it is obvious why: the EU, 500 million people, is in a position to negotiate a trade deal with the US, a country of 330 million people, China, 1.3 billion; Britain alone, a country of 60 million people is a much less attractive proposition to negotiate a trade deal."