A supporter of leaving the EU admitted it could cause short-term troubles but claimed it would eventually be worth it.
Speaking in a debate organised by BBC Look North, Daily Mirror journalist and remain campaigner Kevin Maguire said leaving the EU would cause a recession.
But newspaper columnist and leave advocate Rod Liddle said the country would be better off in the long-run.
The debate panel, which also consisted of Labour MP for Newcastle Central Chi Onwurah and Conservative MP for Berwick Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
Mr Maguire said: "If you leave you will disrupt the economy, there will be a recession, people will lose their jobs."
He also said it would be the poorer parts of society who would suffer the short-term troubles.
But Mr Liddle said it was "daft" and "ridiculous" for remain supporters to say "we will go to hell in a hand cart and it will be murderous" if Britain leaves the EU.
He said: "There is no doubt that in the short term there will be a bumpy ride, the Leave campaign should be a bit more honest about that, trade deals take time but we will be better off in the long run."
Ms Onwurah, a remain campaigner, said: "Rod and Leave can say it will be alright in time but the people who suffer when things go wrong with the economy are not the rich, they are poor people and young people who don't yet have a job."
Ms Trevelyan, who supports leaving, said the money being paid to the EU would be better spent by the UK government.
- Better In or Out? A BBC Look North Referendum Special will be shown at 22.35 on BBC One in the North East and Cumbria.