Alan Donnelly believes now is not the time for voters to become divided after the borough voted 62% in favour of the Brexit campaign.
However, he admits he could have never imagined these results when he served as a Member of European Parliament for the North East between 1989 to 2000.
He said: “I have to be honest, I’ve been out canvassing and the mood of the people was to vote leave.
“The argument we put forward for the economy wasn’t the most important thing in their mind.
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“I would never have imagined this referendum would have happened when I served as a MEP.
“The Prime Minister agreed to hold it to sort out political differences within the Tory party and now he’s self-inflicted a fatal wound on himself.”
Mr Donnelly said that while he respects the results, his biggest concern is limiting the damage to the region.
He added: “You have to resect the decision and I do. I am now looking forwards, not backwards.
“We need to pull people together and limit major damage when it comes to job prospects and potential investment for the region.”
Mr Donnelly also believes that the referendum was a way for many unhappy voters to air their views.
He added: “There’s been a lot of unhappiness and the referendum covered a wide range of things.
“People have been struggling with their standard of living. They’ve be finding it difficult to pay their rents and mortgages and all of these frustrations have been channelled through the referendum and now we’re sing the consequences.”