Millions of people may have witnessed Brexit backer Boris Johnson take on his Conservative colleague Ruth Davidson and Labour's Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in the BBC's Great Debate, but viewers would have missed the political fireworks inside the media spin room, a stone's throw from the SSE Arena.

Vote Leave campaigner and Justice Secretary Michael Gove locked horns with Will Straw, the executive director of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign, minutes after David Dimbleby closed the show. Straw, a former Labour parliamentary candidate and left-wing blogger, accused Gove and his Brexit campaign of misleading the electorate over Turkey's accession to the EU, among other things.

But the top Conservative hit back, claiming that the Remain had not offered an "optimistic or positive case about why we could be in the European Union" – a charge Straw immediately denied. "You haven't put the case forward for Europe," Gove added. "You haven't said the European Union is a good thing, that it's institutions are powerful."

Elsewhere, IBTimes UK tracked down Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who was relegated to the side-lines in the BBC's TV debate. But Farron, a Remain campaigner, compared his role to that of England football star Jamie Vardy, who came off the bench and scored in the team's clash against Wales in the UEFA European Championships.

"I'm a team player and I'm confident that if I'd been on the stage I would have played a blinder, but I had to play the Jamie Vardy role and stay on the bench and score a couple of headers," Farron quipped.

As for the issue of immigration, a top concern in the EU referendum and one which was raised during the 21 June event, he urged UK voters not to blame migrants. "First of all, public services are funded by the British government, the British government is funded by taxes and we know EU migrants contribute £20bn to our economy," Farron said.

"So if our government is not spending their taxes properly on schools and health stop blaming migrants for things that are the Tory government's fault. Secondly, I can be really flippant but blunt, I disagree with Ruth Davidson – I think Vote Leave do have a plan to tackle migration. It's to take us out of the EU, crash the economy and no one will want to come here."

Meanwhile, Vote Leave spokesman and Labour MP John Mann warned that his party, which is supporting Remain, would "have to move quickly" if the party's heartlands back a Brexit on 23 June. "We need to see what the results are – we will see that from constituencies," he told IBTimes UK. "If it is that Labour heartlands have voted Leave and it remains Remain, Labour has to move very, very quickly."

As for who actually won the debate in front of the TV cameras, bookmakers William Hill claimed Davidson took the accolade. The firm has to twice shorten their odds for Scottish Tory leader to succeed David Cameron as the next Conservative leader during the debate – first from 33/1 to 25/1 and then to 16/1.

"One question, Boris, can you name me just one country in the world that has said it will give us a better deal if we come out of the EU? Just one country," was one of Davidson's top quotes of the night, as she took on the former Mayor of London. The clash comes with just two days to go before the EU referendum on 23 June and as the opinion polls almost put the vote neck-and-neck.