'The Rishbot': Rishi Sunak's awkward pause at end of first speech as incoming PM goes viral

Watch: Awkward footage of Rishi Sunak's first speech as PM goes viral

All eyes were on Rishi Sunak as he gave his first speech as incoming prime minister on Monday.

And while his address was just 90 seconds long, he still found time to squeeze in an awkward pause that left some squirming and drew inevitably unfavourable comparisons with predecessor Liz Truss.

The speech was delivered shortly after he secured victory in the Tory leadership race and were his first public comments since Truss resigned last Thursday.

After warning the country faces a "profound economic challenge", he finished by saying: "I will work day in, day out to deliver for the British people,"

However, instead of walking off stage, Sunak stared at the audience - expressionless - for a handful of seconds before finally exiting.

By Tuesday morning a clip of the moment shared on Twitter had been viewed more than 1.8 million times, provoking comments labelling him "the Rishbot", and other digs at his wooden delivery.

"Oh dear. Oh dear," wrote Rhonda MP Chris Bryant while retweeting the footage.

Footage of Rishi Sunak's awkward first speech as PM has gone viral (Sky News/Twitter)
Footage of Rishi Sunak's awkward first speech as PM has gone viral (Sky News/Twitter)

He added: "I found Sunak impressive in the 2017 election but since then his over-packaged hyper-ventilation has put me off. Yesterday he was downright weird. But his biggest problems are his lack of common touch/understanding, his awful economic legacy, and his reputation as a backstabber."

Law commentator David Banks, referring to a much-derided speech from Truss in 2014, said: "That’s a pork markets delivery style - the nightmare continues".

And i Paper policy editor Jane Merrick said: "He must be hoping he's a bit better warmed up in front of No10 tomorrow."

Others were less critical, with Piers Morgan describing it as a "perfect speech" that was "brief, no frills, no bullsh*t, no Latin phrases… and to the point".

The unusual delivery is out of character for Sunak.

As chancellor, he was often confident and articulate when leading the COVID press conferences and he drew widespread phrase when he unveiled his 'Eat Out to Help Out' policy to support and create jobs in the hospitality industry in summer 2020.

And a recent poll by Savanta - while not entirely positive - revealed people regard him as 'confident', 'clever' and 'smart'.

Rich was the most common word chosen to describe new PM Rishi Sunak (Savanta Group)
Rich was the most common word chosen to describe new PM Rishi Sunak, but the words capable, confident and good also featured. (Savanta Group)

Sunak won the Tory leadership race by default on Monday when rival Penny Mordaunt pulled out due to insufficient support.

Boris Johnson also dropped out of the contest on Sunday, despite claiming her had enough backing.

A new leader was needed after Truss resigned on Thursday having spent just 45 days in office.

During his speech at Conservative Party headquarters, Sunak said: "We now need stability and unity and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together.”

He said he was "humbled and honoured" to be chosen to lead by his party, adding: "It is the greatest privilege of my life, to be able to serve the party I love and give back to the country I owe so much to."

He is now expected to embark on what is likely to be a series of unpopular spending cuts as he attempts to tackle the UK's cost-of-living crisis.