John McDonnell would opt for a general election over a second referendum, he has revealed.
The shadow chancellor told Peston on Sunday another referendum would cause further divisions and described an election as a "better route".
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has not ruled out calling for a second referendum once the Brexit terms are known.
Mr Corbyn insisted last month that he was not calling for a new national poll on withdrawal, but sidestepped questions on whether he could change his stance in the future.
Mr McDonnell warned that such a move would "divide the country again".
The shadow chancellor cited "right wing xenophobia" as a potential probelm with a fresh referendum.
But he insisted Labout would "not turn our back on democratic engagement".
"Well I think better we have a general election. Better we have a general election On the issue, and all the other issues, because you then have a wider debate as well," Mr McDonnell said.
Mr Corbyn told Peston last month: "We are not supporting or calling for a second referendum. What we have called for is a meaningful vote in Parliament."
When it was put to Mr Corbyn that he was not saying he would never support another referendum, the Labour leader said: "We are not calling for one either".