Alex Salmond, her predecessor as First Minister, described London as “the dark star of the economy, inexorably sucking in resources, people and energy” during last year’s referendum campaign while Ms Sturgeon was serving as his deputy.
However, in a speech to the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government has “for too long seen London as a threat”.
Opposition politicians said Ms Sturgeon’s remarks were “breathtaking” and an admission that the party had got it “all wrong” during the independence campaign.
The First Minister’s comments came as she announced a £78 million innovation fund to encourage businesses to come up with 1,000 new commercial products aimed at improving the wellbeing of the people of Scotland and around the world.
Ms Sturgeon said: “This is probably a self-criticism of the government as opposed to trying to suggest it has been a feature of businesses, but for too long we have seen London as a threat. We’ve seen London almost, in economic terms, as a rival.
“Of course we will want to compete and be competitive, but I think there is more in it for us to see London as an opportunity.”
Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative spokesman on the economy, said: “This is a breathtaking admission from Nicola Sturgeon that the SNP has been getting it all wrong in relation to the strength of the UK economy for many years.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “This shift in tone is welcome from the First Minister.”